Sunday 21 December 2014

Munster and Ulster handed nightmare draws for the inaugural Champions Cup

Published 10/06/2014 | 12:58

The time has almost come for Anthony Foley to take centre stage in Munster with Rob Penney's departure
Anthony Foley would have been hoping for a more favourable draw

Anthony Foley has been handed a daunting draw in the European Rugby Champions Cup as he embarks on his first season as Munster Head Coach.

The Red Army have been drawn alongside this year's Heineken Cup runners-up Saracens, the 2013 runners-up Clermont Auvergne and Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks.

It is difficult to determine whether their draw is better or worse than Ulster's.

Mark Anscombe's men must play reigning Heineken Cup champions Toulon, Leicester Tigers and Scarlets in Pool Three.

Rabodirect Pro12 champs Leinster have been given a slightly easier draw (only slightly) as they face Castres Olympique, Conor O'Shea's Harlequins and London Wasps in Pool Two.

Poul Four contains Glasgow, Montpellier, Bath and Toulouse with Premiership champions Northampton, Racing Mertro, Ospreys and Treviso in Pool Five.

The European Rugby Champions Cup succeeds the Heineken Cup, which ran for 19 seasons and ended in Cardiff 17 days ago.

Connacht were drawn in Pool Two of the Challenge Cup with Exeter Chiefs, Bayonne and La Rochelle.

After almost two years of negotiations, a new competition was forged in April comprising nine stakeholders - the six unions of competing teams, plus Premiership Rugby, France's Ligue Nationale de Rugby and Regional Rugby Wales - in addition to the Challenge Cup and a third qualifying tournament.

Pool draw for the 2014-15 European Rugby Champions Cup:

Pool 1: Saracens, Munster, Clermont Auvergne, Sale Sharks.

Pool 2: Leinster, Castres, Harlequins, Wasps.

Pool 3: Toulon, Leicester, Ulster, Scarlets.

Pool 4: Glasgow, Montpellier, Bath, Toulouse.

Pool 5: Northampton, Racing Metro, Ospreys, Treviso.

 

Pool draw for the 2014-15 European Rugby Challenge Cup:

Pool 1: Cardiff Blues, London Irish, Grenoble, FIRA 1 qualifier.

Pool 2: Exeter, Bayonne, Connacht, La Rochelle.

Pool 3: Stade Francais, Newport Gwent Dragons, Newcastle, FIRA 2 qualifier.

Pool 4: Edinburgh, Bordeaux-Begles, London Welsh, Lyon.

Pool 5: Gloucester, Brive, Zebre, Oyonnax.

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