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Draw Is Made For Heineken Cup Pools

Draw Is Made For Heineken Cup Pools

The draw has been made for the pool stages of the 2011/12 Heineken Cup. Reigning champions Leinster have been paired with former tournament winners Bath, Magners League rivals Glasgow Warriors and Top 14 runners-up Montpellier in Pool 3.

Former Wales and Lions winger Ieuan Evans hosted the draw which took place at Twickenham, the venue for next season’s Heineken Cup final.

ERC Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux and Chief Executive Derek McGrath drew out the team and pool balls respectively, with title holders Leinster, fresh from their memorable win in Cardiff last month, having the honour of being the first side drawn out.

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The province will have to overcome Bath, Glasgow Warriors and Heineken Cup debutants Montpellier if they are to reach the knockout stages for the fourth successive year.

While Leinster and Montpellier have never played each other before, Glasgow and Bath, whom they face for the third season in Europe, are more familiar opponents for them.

Munster, the newly-crowned Magners League champions, are the top seeds in Pool 1 alongside last season’s beaten Heineken Cup finalists Northampton Saints, regular rivals the Scarlets and French outfit Castres Olympique.

Of course, Munster lined out against Northampton on three occasions during the 2009/10 campaign, winning at home and losing away in the pool stages and then cutting loose for a 33-19 quarter-final win at Thomond Park.

Following their impressive showing in last season’s tournament, Ulster will be all out to finish ahead of former winners Leicester Tigers and France’s Clermont Auvergne in Pool 4, with Italian side Aironi completing the quartet.

This is the second season in-a-row that Ulster and Aironi have been drawn together in European competition, while the province last met Leicester during the 2003/04 campaign.

Ulster’s operations director David Humphreys said: “There is no doubt that this is a particularly difficult group, but there are no easy pools any more. If you look throughout the competition, there are many teams that could reach the quarter finals.

“Leicester finished top of the Aviva Premiership last season and Clermont Auvergne finished fourth in the Top 14, so that highlights their quality. We know from our games against Aironi last season that they will will be hard to beat as well.

“There is no doubt next season will be another step up for our players but we certainly have the ability to progress to the knockout stages once again.”

Meanwhile, Connacht’s historic entry in the Heineken Cup for the first time will see them clashing with some of European rugby’s biggest names.

Drawn in Pool 6, Eric Elwood’s men face some mouth-watering games against current French champions Toulouse, this season’s Amlin Challenge Cup winners Harlequins and Gloucester, who reached the Aviva Premiership semi-finals this year.

Connacht know Harlequins very well having played them twice during the pool stages of the 2010/11 Amlin Challenge Cup, losing both ties.

‘Quins and Gloucester both faced Connacht in pre-season friendlies in August 2009, while Conor O’Shea’s charges also made the trip to the Sportsground last August.


POOL 1 –

Northampton Saints
Castres Olympique

POOL 2 –

Cardiff Blues
London Irish
Racing Metro 92

POOL 3 –

Glasgow Warriors

POOL 4 –

Leicester Tigers
Clermont Auvergne
Aironi Rugby

POOL 5 –

Biarritz Olympique
Benetton Treviso

POOL 6 –


ROUND 1: November 11/12/13
ROUND 2: November 18/19/20
ROUND 3: December 9/10/11
ROUND 4: December 16/17/18
ROUND 5: January 13/14/15
ROUND 6: January 20/21/22
SEMI-FINALS: April 27/28/29

FINAL: May 19/20, Twickeham (Click here to purchase tickets for the final)