Ulster have been given the task of toppling familiar foes Leicester Tigers and Benetton Treviso, as well as new opponents Montpellier, as they bid to reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the fourth year running.
Ulster’s tier 1 status for Wednesday’s Heineken Cup pool draw at the Aviva Stadium earned them top billing in Pool 5, but recently crowned Aviva Premiership champions Leicester Tigers will soon be plotting the province’s downfall.
This will be the third time Ulster have met Leicester in the pool stages, and previous results prove the contest was equally matched with the home side generally coming out on top.
The two teams drew in a friendly earlier this season and judging by their reputation as an English powerhouse, this has the potential to be the toughest of the pool games for the Ulstermen.
The province have not played Montpellier before in European competition, but Montpellier have been challenging strongly in the Top 14 over the past few seasons and as they become a more experienced Heineken Cup team, they will hoping to make the knockout stages for the first time.
The Ravenhill faithful will welcome back a former fan favourite, winger Timoci Nagusa, who is now a regular for the French club.
The final place in the pool went to one of Ulster’s fellow RaboDirect PRO12 teams, Benetton Treviso. The sides drew at Ravenhill this season but the away trip proved more successful for Mark Anscombe’s charges, who came away with a narrow 16-15 victory.
Giving his reaction to the draw, Ulster director of rugby David Humphreys said: “The days of an easy Heineken Cup draw are now gone and every season the competition and quality of opposition gets better and better.
“We’ve been drawn in a tough pool against opponents that we know well in Leicester and Treviso, but also Montpellier – a team we have never played previously.
“The challenge of facing Leicester is highlighted by their recent performances in becoming Aviva Premiership winners, while Montpellier and Treviso have become increasingly competitive in their respective domestic leagues but also in Europe.
“Once again the draw has thrown up some very exciting fixtures and everyone, the players and management, are looking forward to another exciting Heineken Cup campaign.”
To ensure you get tickets to all of Ulster’s home Heineken Cup fixtures, Season Tickets are currently available to buy online here.