The provinces have some exciting clashes with French and English opposition to look forward to, following today’s pool draw for the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Connacht will renew rivalries with Leicester Tigers, who ended their Challenge Cup hopes at the round-of-16 stage last season, and also take on Stade Francais for the first time.
Andy Friend’s men are set to play both sides on a home-and-away basis over four pool rounds, with the 24 qualified teams drawn into two pools of 12.
Beaten semi-finalists last term and one of Pool A’s top seeds, Leinster are also lining up familiar opponents in Montpellier and Bath. They defeated the French club 35-14 away last season, and won twice against Bath in their 2018/19 pool.
Coming out of the tier 1 hat in Pool B, Munster are down to play Castres Olympique and Wasps. They have plenty of European history with both – their most recent cup encounter with Wasps was way back in their 2008 title-winning campaign.
Dan McFarland’s Ulster have more recent history with their two pool rivals, Clermont Auvergne and Northampton Saints. They overcame Saints 35-27 on the way to reaching the Challenge Cup’s last-four in April.
The exact dates of the 2021/22 pool fixtures, as well as venues, kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced as soon as possible following consultation with teams and EPCR’s partner broadcasters.
The 2021/22 tournament will be played over nine weekends, beginning in December and concluding with the final in Marseille on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
The eight highest-ranked sides from each pool will qualify for the knockout rounds which will consist of a round-of-16 on a home-and-away basis, quarter-finals and semi-finals, and then the decider at the Stade Vélodrome.
Today’s draw, which was live-streamed on www.heinekenchampionscup.com, was conducted by EPCR’s Head of Events and Operations, Ben Harries, and EPCR’s Partnerships Activation Executive, Laia Gonzalez. The event scrutineer was Lausanne-based solicitor, Jean-Guillaume Amiguet.
2021/22 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
POOL A (with opponents in brackets)
Stade Rochelais (Bath Rugby, Glasgow Warriors)
Exeter Chiefs (Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Glasgow Warriors)
Leinster Rugby (Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Bath Rugby)
Racing 92 (Northampton Saints, Ospreys)
Sale Sharks (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys)
Ulster Rugby (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Northampton Saints)
ASM Clermont Auvergne (Sale Sharks, Ulster Rugby)
Northampton Saints (Racing 92, Ulster Rugby)
Ospreys (Racing 92, Sale Sharks)
Montpellier Hérault Rugby (Exeter Chiefs, Leinster Rugby)
Bath Rugby (Stade Rochelais, Leinster Rugby)
Glasgow Warriors (Stade Rochelais, Exeter Chiefs)
POOL B (with opponents in brackets)
Stade Toulousain (Wasps, Cardiff Rugby)
Harlequins (Castres Olympique, Cardiff Rugby)
Munster Rugby (Castres Olympique, Wasps)
Union Bordeaux-Bègles (Leicester Tigers, Scarlets)
Bristol Bears (Stade Français Paris, Scarlets)
Connacht Rugby (Stade Français Paris, Leicester Tigers)
Stade Français Paris (Bristol Bears, Connacht Rugby)
Leicester Tigers (Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Connacht Rugby)
Scarlets (Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Bristol Bears)
Castres Olympique (Harlequins, Munster Rugby)
Wasps (Stade Toulousain, Munster Rugby)
Cardiff Rugby (Stade Toulousain, Harlequins)
Round 1 – 10/11/12 December
Round 2 – 17/18/19 December
Round 3 – 14/15/16 January 2022
Round 4 – 21/22/23 January 2022
Round of 16 (1st leg) – 8/9/10 April 2022
Round of 16 (2nd leg) – 15/16/17 April 2022
Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 May 2022
Semi-finals – 13/14/15 May 2022
Challenge Cup final – Friday 27 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 28 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille