We begin our look at next season’s European Rugby Challenge Cup with a factfile on Pool 1, which comprises Castres Olympique, Worcester Warriors, Dragons and Enisei-STM. 

Castres Olympique 

Ground: Stade Pierre Fabre, Castres, France. 

Challenge Cup record: The French side have been runners-up in the Challenge Cup on two occasions, with final defeats to Bourgoin and Pau in 1997 and 2000 respectively. 

Last season: Castres took part in the Heineken Champions Cup and finished third in Pool 2 after winning three and losing three of their six games. They were seven points adrift of table-topping Munster Rugby. 

Head coach: Mauricio Reggiardo was announced as the 2019/20 head coach for Castres last year, moving from Agen. 

New signings: Prop Karena Wihongi is one of the key additions made by Castres during the off-season. 

Worcester Warriors 

Ground: Sixways Stadium, Worcester, England.

Challenge Cup record: Last season was the first time that Worcester qualified for the knockout stages of the competition for a decade. The 2008/09 campaign was the third time in four seasons that they reached the semi-finals, with the highlight being 2007/08, when they went on to the final, only to lose 24-16 to Bath Rugby at Kingsholm, Gloucester. 

Last season: The Warriors comfortably topped Pool 2 by nine points after winning five of their six games, only to bow out at the quarter-final stage after losing 18-16 at home to Gallagher Premiership rivals Harlequins. 

Director of rugby: Alan Solomons is director of rugby at Worcester, having moved to Sixways from Edinburgh Rugby in 2016. He had previously been with Ulster and Northampton Saints.

New signings: Lock Graham Kitchener has joined Worcester for the 2019/20 campaign along with Conor Carey (Connacht), Melani Nanai (Blues) and Matt Moulds (Blues).

 

Dragons 

Ground: Rodney Parade, Newport, Wales. 

Challenge Cup record: Dragons have reached the semi-finals of the competition three times – in 2006/07, 2014/15 and 2015/16 – but have not qualified for the knockout stages since. 

Last season: The Welsh region won only two of their six Pool 1 games to finish third behind eventual winners ASM Clermont Auvergne. 

Director of rugby: Dean Ryan takes over at Rodney Parade, having previously coached at Worcester, Bristol and Gloucester. Ryan was also assistant coach with Scotland in 2012. 

New signings: Fly-half Sam Davies has made the move to Newport from Ospreyswhile James McCarthy joins from Munster alongside prop Jack Cosgrove and centre Tom Griffiths.

Enisei-STM 

Ground: Various 

Challenge Cup record: Enisei-STM have competed in the tournament four times and have never reached the knockout stage, winning four games in total – two in 2015/16 and two in 2016/17. 

Last season: The Russian team lost all six of their Pool 4 matches to finish bottom of their table, but they did pick up a try bonus point in their 64-26 loss at La Rochelle thanks largely to a hat-trick from Uldis Saulite. 

Head coach: Alexander Pervukhin takes over as head coach from Vakil Valeev, who had been in charge since 2014. Pervukhin had previously been head coach with Enisei from 1992 to 2014.