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Wednesday's draw for the pool stages was made by ERC Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux and Chief Executive Derek McGrath in Cardiff, the host city for the 2011 final which will be played at the Millennium Stadium over the weekend of May 21-22.

Leinster's new coach Josef Schmidt will have to plot the downfall of the club he has recently left, French side Clermont Auvergne, in Pool 2 of next season's Heineken Cup.

Of course, Leinster and Clermont Auvergne met in the quarter-final in April when a brace of tries from number 8 Jamie Heaslip and 19 points from the boot of out-half Jonathan Sexton helped the home side to a nail-biting 29-28 victory at the RDS.

Clermont Auvergne recovered from that European disappointment to win the Top 14 French Championship title for the first time in their history.

English club Saracens, who have former Ulster and Ireland centre Mark McCall as their first team coach, will also provide Leinster will stiff competition in their pool, and France's Racing-Metro 92, one of two new clubs in the tournament, complete the quartet.

Saracens recently lost the Guinness Premiership final to Leicester Tigers.

Munster have been drawn in Pool 3 alongside recently-crowned Magners League champions, the Ospreys, the Bob Casey-led London Irish and French outfit Toulon, who lost the recent Amlin Challenge Cup final to the Cardiff Blues.

Tony McGahan's men will be bidding to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament for the thirteenth successive season. They meet the Ospreys regularly in the league and memorably knocked the Welsh region out of the quarter-finals last year.

Munster most recently played London Irish in a pre-season friendly at Musgrave Park last August, with young winger Danny Barnes scoring two of their four tries in a 31-23 win.

Toulon, meanwhile, boast a talent-laden squad which includes former Munster prop Timmy Ryan.

Ulster have been pitted with Bath for the second successive year. Two more super-charged Anglo-Irish clashes are in the offing in Pool 4, while Brian McLaughlin's side also have Biarritz Olympique, the beaten finalists this past season, and Italian newcomers Aironi Rugby on the agenda.

Ulster scored a notable home-and-away double over Bath with a 26-12 win at Ravenhill last October, and a terrific 28-10 triumph at the Rec in January.

The draw was again conducted using the merit-based ERC European Ranking system compiled on the qualified teams' performances over the past four seasons in the Heineken Cup and knock-out stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

The 24 teams who have qualified for the 2010/11 competition were graded into four tiers of six teams each, with each of the six pools having one team from each of the four tier levels.

2010/11 HEINEKEN CUP POOLS:

POOL 1 -

Cardiff Blues
Northampton Saints
Edinburgh
Castres Olympique

POOL 2 -

LEINSTER
Clermont Auvergne
Saracens
Racing-Metro 92

POOL 3 -

MUNSTER
Ospreys
London Irish
Toulon

POOL 4 -

Biarritz Olympique
Bath
ULSTER
Aironi Rugby

POOL 5 -

Leicester Tigers
Scarlets

Perpignan
Benneton Treviso

POOL 6 -

Toulouse
London Wasps
Glasgow Warriors
Newport Gwent Dragons

THE TIERS (with ERC European Ranking points):

TIER 1:

29 - MUNSTER
27 - Toulouse
25 - LEINSTER
23 - Leicester Tigers
20 - Biarritz Olympique
20 - Cardiff Blues

TIER 2:

19 - London Wasps
15 - Clermont Auvergne
15 - Ospreys
15 - Northampton Saints
14 - Bath
12 - Scarlets

TIER 3:

11 - Perpignan
11 - London Irish
11 - Saracens
8 - ULSTER
7 - Glasgow Warriors
6 - Edinburgh

TIER 4:

6 - Newport Gwent Dragons
4 - Benetton Treviso
4 - Castres Olympique
4 - Toulon
Aironi Rugby
Racing-Metro 92

2010/11 HEINEKEN CUP FIXTURES -

Round 1: October 8/9/10
Round 2: October 15/16/17
Round 3: December 10/11/12
Round 4: December 17/18/19
Round 5: January 14/15/16
Round 6: January 21/22/23
Quarter-finals: April 8/9/10
Semi-finals: April 30/May 1
Final: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, May 21/22

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20 June 2018
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