Rugby

Champions Cup Draw: Munster In Pool Of Death, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht Learn Fates

Champions Cup Draw: Munster In Pool Of Death, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht Learn Fates

The Champions Cup draw for the pool stages was made on Wednesday as all four Irish provinces learned their fates for the upcoming season.

Leinster were made a top seed for the draw after winning the Pro14 and were rewarded with a place in Pool 1 made up of French side Lyon, resurgent Italians Benetton and a re-match of the 2011 European Cup final with Northampton.

Munster and Ulster were both second seeds for the Champions Cup draw and they were both left with giants of the European game.

Johann van Grann's men have been drawn into the group of death in Pool 4 where they will face defending champions Saracens, 2018 finalists Racing 92 and the Ospreys.

As for Ulster, they face a stern test themselves with two English sides in Harlequins and Bath as well as Top 14 runners-up Clermont Auvergne joining them in Pool 3.

Connacht's return to the top tier of European rugby for the first time since the 2016/17 season has seen them pitted against French champions Toulouse, English club Gloucester and Top 14 side Montpellier in Pool 5.

In the other pool at this year's tournament, Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle side will face runners-up of the English Premiership Exeter Chiefs, Pro14 runners-up Glasgow and a second English team in Sale Sharks.

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With the Rugby World Cup taking place this autumn, the Champions Cup will kick off later than usual with the first round of fixtures taking place on the weekend beginning on Friday, November 15th.

Teams will return a week later to play their second games, with rounds three and four taking place on the weekends beginning December 6th and December 13th respectively.

The pool stages will then wrap up in January, with round five starting on January 10th and the final games of the group stages on the weekend of January 17th.

There will then be a break until the weekend beginning Friday, April 3rd for the quarter-finals with the semi-finals a month later on May 2nd and 3rd.

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The final, which will take place in Marseille, will then be played on Saturday May 23rd.

The Champions Cup draw in full:

Pool 1

Leinster
Lyon
Northampton Saints
Benetton

Pool 2

Exeter Chiefs
Glasgow Warriors
La Rochelle
Sale Sharks

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Pool 3

ASM Clermont
Ulster
Harlequins
Bath

Pool 4

Saracens
Munster
Racing 92
Ospreys

Pool 5

Toulouse
Gloucester
Connacht
Montpellier

Read More: Here's What The New Pro14 Reshuffle Means For The Irish Provinces

Kevin Beirne

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