Connacht will face Perpignan, Bordeaux and Sale

Former Ulster outhalf Paddy Jackson is set to return to Irish rugby, with Connacht drawn against his new Perpignan side in Pool 3 of the Challenge Cup.

Jackson has recently linked up with the French side on a two-year deal, after being sacked by Ulster and Irish rugby, following his acquittal on charges of rape.

He and his co-accused Stuart Olding both had their contracts terminated after the Belfast triel, following an investigation into their conduct. Olding has recently moved to French side Brive, while Jackson took part in his first training session with his new club yesterday.

They will provide opposition for Connacht alongside Bordeaux-Begles and Premiership side Sale Sharks in Pool 3. Jackson had also reportedly agreed to join Sale, before the English side distanced themselves from the move after pressure from sponsors.

Last year Connacht topped their pool, before suffering a quarter final defeat to Gloucester at the Sportsground.

The province will be starting this season with a new head coach in Andy Friend, after Kieran Keane's sismissal, just one year into his contract.

FULL CHALLENGE CUP DRAW:

POOL 1

Northampton Saints, Clermont Auvergne, Newport-Gwent Dragons, Timisoara Saracens

POOL 2

Pau, Ospreys, Worcester Warriors, Stade Francais

POOL 3

Sale Sharks, Connacht, Bordeaux-Begles, USA Perpignan

POOL 4

La Rochelle, Zebre, Bristol Bears, Enisei STM

POOL 5

Harlequins, Benetton Rugby, Agen, Grenoble