Monday 15 July 2019

Champions Cup draw: Munster handed pool of death with Saracens and Racing 92 as Leinster get favourable assignment

Johnny Sexton (left) and Peter O'Mahony (right).
Johnny Sexton (left) and Peter O'Mahony (right).
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Munster will face a group of death in the Champions Cup next season after being drawn in a pool with Saracens and Racing 92.

Munster were defeated by the English giants in the semi-final last season and the Parisian side in the final four the year before, and will do battle with them again next season. After being eliminated at the semi-final stage for the last three seasons, Munster head coach Johann van Graan will hope that the recruitment of high-profile assistant coaches Stephen Larkham and Graham Rowntree will bring the province to the next level.

However, they face an tough task to escape from a pool that contains two of Europe's biggest teams.

Last year's finalists Leinster face a more favourable pool, as they were drawn with Lyon, Northampton and Benetton Treviso. After lifting the trophy in 2018, Leinster came up just short in Newcastle last season, going down 20-10 to a formidable Saracens outfit, so Leo Cullen's side will be determined to get their hands back on Cup.

Ulster and Connacht fared somewhere in between Leinster and Munster. Dan McFarland's side will face French heavyweights Clermont, who return to the tournament after missing out last year, as well as English sides Bath and Harlequins.

Connacht, who will play in the Champions Cup for the first time since the 2016/17 seasons, are alongside French champions Toulouse, Gloucester and Montpellier.

Due to the World Cup this autumn, the Champions Cup kicks off later than usual next season, with the first round of matches penciled in for just two weeks after the final in Japan, on the weekend of November 15/16/17.

Champions Cup draw

Pool 1 - Leinster, Lyon, Northampton, Benetton rugby.

Pool 2 - Exeter Chiefs, Glasgow Warriors, La Rochelle, Sales Sharks.

Pool 3 - Clermont Auvergne, Ulster, Harlequins, Bath Rugby.

Pool 4 - Saracens, Munster, Racing 92, Ospreys.

Pool 5 - Toulouse, Gloucester, Connacht, Montpellier.

Champions Cup pool fixtures

Round 1 - November 15/16/17

Round 2 - November 22/23/24

Round 3 - December 6/7/8

Round 4 - December 13/14/15

Round 5 - January 10/11/12

Round 6 - January 15/16/17

The European Challenge Cup draw was also made today, with Declan Kidney's London Irish side put in a challenging pool alongside Toulon and the Scarlets.

European Challenge Cup draw

Pool 1 - Castres, Worcester, Dragons, Enisei-Stm.

Pool 2 - Scarlets, Toulon, London Irish, Bayonne.

Pool 3 - Wasps, Edinburgh, Bordeaux-Begles, Agen.

Pool 4 - Stade Francais, Bristol, Zebre, Brive.

Pool 5 - Cardiff Blues, Leicester, Pau, Calvisano.

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