Sunday 23 October 2016

Toulon's Paul O'Connell set for Irish return as Leinster handed nightmare Champions Cup draw

Published 17/06/2015 | 14:10

Luke Fitzgerald in action against Toulon
Luke Fitzgerald in action against Toulon

Three-time Heineken Cup champions Leinster were handed a huge task to reach the knockout stages of the Champions Cup after today's draw in Switzerland.

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Reigning champions Toulon, who will have Ireland captain Paul O'Connell in their ranks, have been drawn in the same group as the Irish province. The sides met at the penultimate stage of last season's competition, with the Top 14 side edging past after extra-time on their way to another crown.

Joining them in the pool will be Wasps and another Aviva Premiership side in Bath. Leinster also played both sides last season, defeating Wasps at home and drawing away in the pool stages before see off a youthful Bath side in the last eight.

Anthony Foley's Munster were drawn to face familiar European foes Leicester Tigers in Pool Four and will be joined by Top 14 champions Stade Francais and Italian side Treviso.

Ulster were also handed a difficult task as they were yet again paired against English side Saracens. Pool One also contains European kingpins Toulouse and fellow French side side Oyonnax.

Clermont's attempt to go one better next season will be tested at the group stage by Welsh region Ospreys and Aviva Premiership side Exeter Chiefs.

Northampton were paired alongside PRO12 champions Glasgow, French side Racing 92 and Welsh outfit Scarlets in Pool Three.

European Professional Club Rugby confirmed at the draw that next season's Champions Cup final will take place at the Grand Stade de Lyon on May 14, with the Challenge Cup final played at the same venue the previous day.

It was also confirmed that the two competitions' 2017 finals will be played at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

POOL 1: Saracens, Ulster, Toulouse, Oyonnax

POOL 2: Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys, Exeter Chiefs

POOL 3: Glasgow Warriors, Northampton Saints, Racing 92, Scarlets

POOL 4: Stade Francais, Munster, Leicester, Treviso

POOL 5: Bath, Toulon, Leinster, Wasps

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