Cardiff Blues will face English rivals Bath and Bristol in Pool Four of the European Challenge Cup.
At today’s EPCR pool draw in Neuchatel, Switzerland, Wales’ Capital Region were top tier seeds and pooled with their cross-border rivals and Top 14 Pyrenees outfit Pau.
There will be a sense of familiarity with Aviva Premiership newcomers Bristol, who are also pre-season opponents, with both head coach Danny Wilson and new backs coach Matt Sherratt previously enjoying stints at the Memorial Ground.
Reacting to the draw Wilson said: “It’s a massively exciting draw with two English teams and Pau, who have so many star players.
“It is undoubtedly a very tough group and you only had to see the calibre of teams in just tier one to see the quality of this tournament.
“Bath will be really strong. They had a difficult year last season but they have too much quality for that to happen again and they will be targeting this competition as a route to get back into the Champions Cup.
“There are the obvious links with Bristol and myself and also Jockey (Sherratt) who has come in for this season.
“They have achieved their long-standing target of returning to the English top flight and it’s great to be drawn with them.
“To have these big derbies, against big budget teams in big stadiums is a brilliant challenge and one we are looking forward to.”
2016/17 Challenge Cup pools
Pool 1: La Rochelle, Gloucester Rugby, Benetton Treviso, Bayonne
Pool 2: Ospreys, Grenoble, Newcastle Falcons, Lyon
Pool 3: Brive, Worcester Warriors, Newport Gwent Dragons, Enisei-STM
Pool 4: Cardiff Blues, Bath Rugby, Pau, Bristol Rugby
Pool 5: Harlequins, Edinburgh Rugby, Stade Français Paris, Timisoara Saracens
EPCR weekends – 2016/17
Round 1: 13/14/15/16 October
Round 2: 20/21/22/23 October
Round 3: 8/9/10/11 December
Round 4: 15/16/17/18 December
Round 5: 12/13/14/15 January 2017
Round 6: 19/20/21/22 January 2017
Quarter-finals: 30/31 March - 1/2 April 2017
Semi-finals: 21/22/23 April 2017
Finals Edinburgh 2017
European Rugby Challenge Cup: Friday 12 May, BT Murrayfield Stadium
European Rugby Champions Cup: Saturday 13 May, BT Murrayfield Stadium