Four sides from the Italian TOP12 – Argos Rugby Petrarca, Pataro Calvisano, Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo Delta and GS Fiamme Oro Rugby – will be joined by Georgia’s RC Locomotive Tbilisi and Belgian representatives, Belgium Rugby Barbarians XV, competing in two pools of three.

Locomotive Tbilisi, Calvisano and Fiamme Oro from Rome have been drawn in Pool A while Pool B is made up of Petrarca, Belgium Rugby Barbarians XV and Rovigo. Clubs in the same pool will play one another on a home and away basis and the two pool winners will then play off over two legs to decide which club qualifies for the 2019/20 Challenge Cup.

A further place in the 2019/20 Challenge Cup will be decided by a home and away play-off between Russia’s Enisei-STM and Timisoara Saracens of Romania who are both competing in this season’s Challenge Cup.

The aim of the Continental Shield is to widen the footprint of club rugby across Europe and to give both emerging and established clubs in different territories the opportunity to qualify for the Challenge Cup.

The Continental Shield, which was won for the second time by Enisei-STM in Bilbao last season, is organised by EPCR in conjunction with Rugby Europe and the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR).