Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Shane Logan is excited that the Champions Cup draw has given the province the opportunity to host reigning European champions Toulon in Belfast.
EUROPEAN RUGBY CHAMPIONS CUP - POOL 3:
Leicester Tigers ULSTER
Ulster were placed in Pool 3 of the new European Rugby Champions Cup during today's draw in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Standing between them and a spot in the knockout stages are Toulon and familiar foes Leicester Tigers and the Scarlets.
Ulster will be meeting Toulon for the first time, with the French giants having won the Heineken Cup for a second successive time last month with a 23-6 final defeat of Saracens.
The mouth-watering fixture at Kingspan Stadium will provide local fans with the opportunity to see some of the world's best players such as Matt Giteau, Bakkies Botha and European Player of the Year Steffon Amitage. Toulon have also recruited James O'Connor, Leigh Halfpenny and Mamuka Gorgodze for the 2014/15 campaign.
The Ulstermen have faced Leicester in two of the past three years in European competition, and will be hoping to repeat last season's results by registering both home and away wins.
Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Shane Logan described the draw as 'tough, achievable and very exciting', stating: "We knew it was going to be tough - with now only 20 teams in the competition it makes it harder all round. We want to play at the top level and we certainly will.
"I don't think we have anything to fear - I'm not underestimating the task but we're getting better at winning away from home in the big games. Last year we won away to Leicester and Montpellier."
Logan was particularly looking forward to welcoming Toulon to Belfast next season, dubbing it 'a magnificent fixture'.
"It's mouth-watering. We believe we have, perhaps, Europe's best stadium and we want to have Europe's best teams playing at it. That's the beauty of this competition and that's the beauty of what we're trying to create here in Ulster.
"Toulon have a team that is star-studded with some of the world's best players and I know they'll bring a big crowd over and I know that our crowd will more than rival them. It's great for Ulster Rugby and it will be a pleasure to welcome them to Kingspan Stadium."
The two other games will undoubtedly draw big crowds to the home of Ulster Rugby, especially given the familiarity between the sides and how competitive a pool it is likely to be.
"We're well used to playing Leicester, having met them in two of the past three seasons and interestingly, when we've had them in our pool we've managed to go through to the quarter-finals," noted Logan.
"I think we are the only team in Europe to have gone through to the last-eight in each of the last four years. It will be tough, enjoyable, but we'll do our best to make it five years in a row.
"You can't underestimate the Scarlets. They beat us well away from home last season although we beat them well in Belfast. It's always a tough battle - they play attractive rugby and have a fine coach in Simon Easterby."
The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) and Leinster Rugby have announced the launch of an international architectural design competition, the first step in the redevelopment of the RDS Arena, home to both Leinster Rugby and the Dublin Horse Show.
Rob Murphy caught up with Connacht prop Ronan Loughney to discuss the province's Heineken Cup round 4 loss to Biarritz Olympique, which was played in very wet conditions at the Parc des Sports Aguilera.
Speaking to Rob Murphy after Connacht's 17-0 defeat at Biarritz, head coach Eric Elwood said: "We ideally wanted to come here and build on last week's performance and play rugby. But when you have conditions like that, they become a great leveller and we had to go toe-to-toe with a heavyweight in their big pack. The effort and courage of the guys was magnificent though."
Speaking after Connacht's memorable 22-14 defeat of Biarritz Olympique, head coach Eric Elwood said: "We've shown a lot of faith in the young guys - if you play well, you'll stay in the team. Mick Kearney, Jason Harris-Wright, Dave McSharry and Robbie Henshaw...they were magnificent. They looked comfortable in that environment. That's what we're about, bringing those young, indigenous players through."
Connacht's Ireland-capped lock Mike McCarthy turned in a man-of-the-match performance as the province downed French giants Biarritz Olympique at the Sportsground. He spoke to Rob Murphy after the famous 22-14 win.
ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath spoke to Irish Rugby TV this week at the draw for the 2012/13 Heineken Cup pool stages. The final will take place at the Aviva Stadium on May 18 with the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup on May 17 at the RDS.
Connacht's retiring CEO Gerry Kelly spoke to Irish Rugby TV at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday and gave us his reaction to the draw for the 2012/13 Heineken Cup pool stages. Connacht have been drawn in the same pool as old rivals Harlequins, French side Biarritz Olympique and new Italian team Zebre.
Irish Rugby TV spoke to Leinster CEO Mick Dawson immediately after the draw for the 2012/13 Heineken Cup pool stages. He gave us his reaction to Leinster being pitted against Clermont Auvergne, the Scarlets and Exeter Chiefs in Pool 5.
ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath presents the 2012 ERC European Player of the Year award to Leinster full-back Rob Kearney. Afterwards, he spoke of his pride at being selected for the award and gave 'a huge thanks' to his team-mates, the coaching staff and backroom team.
Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt, captain Leo Cullen and full-back Rob Kearney spoke at the post-match press conference in the aftermatch of their third Heineken Cup final success in four years. With their European crown retained, Leinster will chase a prized double against the Ospreys next week.
Speaking after Leinster retained the Heineken Cup in the all-Irish final against Ulster, out-half Jonathan Sexton said: "I think the scoreline definitely flattered us. It was a really tough game, the Ulster boys and all of us were saying we've never been so tired. It was a good advert for Irish rugby and a great occasion for the support."
Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin reflects on his final match in charge of the province - the Heineken Cup final defeat to Leinster - and hooker Rory Best also answered questions during the post-match press conference at Twickenham.
New Zealand prop John Afoa talks about Ulster bouncing back from their 42-14 Heineken Cup final defeat to Leinster at Twickenham. The prop praised the efforts of his team-mates and the vocal and colourful support provided by the fans.
Prop Mike Ross and team manager Guy Easterby preview Leinster's bid for their second Heineken Cup success in-a-row. Ross and his team-mates are gearing up to face provincial rivals Ulster in Saturday's final at Twickenham.
Centre Darren Cave is relishing Ulster's Heineken Cup final showdown with Leinster at Twickenham. He says he is 'very proud' to be representing the Ulster fans, recognising that he is 'just another supporter who is lucky enough to wear the shirt for a couple of years'.
Ulster hooker Rory Best talks about the build-up to Saturday's Heineken Cup final showdown with Leinster at Twickenham, and what it would mean to emulate the province's European title-winning heroes of 1999.
Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin and captain Johann Muller give their thoughts ahead of the province's first European Cup decider in 13 years - they meet provincial rivals Leinster at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Aviva Stadium and the RDS will host next year's Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals respectively. Speaking at the announcement, IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: "It will be a great rugby weekend. What better city to do it in than Dublin? We've a reputation for being good hosts and here's an opportunity for us to show it to the rugby world."