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Munster Set For Toulouse Rematch In Next Season’s Champions Cup

Munster Set For Toulouse Rematch In Next Season’s Champions Cup

A view of the EPCR Challenge Cup and Heineken Champions Cup trophies at today's pool draws in Dublin ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The pool draws for the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup tournaments were held today at the Aviva Stadium, the venue for next season’s finals.

South Africa’s Stormers, Bulls and Sharks featured in the Heineken Champions Cup draw for the first time, with the Lions and Cheetahs debuting in the EPCR Challenge Cup.

The cross-tier pool format has paired Munster and Toulouse together, just a few weeks on from their epic Champions Cup quarter-final at IRFU HQ that was decided by penalties.

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With Graham Rowntree taking the reins as head coach, the Munstermen will have home and away pool dates next December and January with Toulouse and Northampton Saints.

Munster and Northampton last met during the 2011/12 tournament’s pool stages, when Ronan O’Gara, head coach of current champions La Rochelle, famously nailed a last-gasp winning drop goal at home and Simon Zebo scored a second half hat-trick at Franklin’s Gardens.

O’Gara’s La Rochelle side are on Ulster’s radar this winter, bringing back memories of two terrific contests back in 2017/18 when the French club triumphed at home before tries from Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale and Nick Timoney helped Ulster gain revenge in Belfast.

Dan McFarland’s men are also set to face Sale Sharks in pool action, the first time the two teams have played each other competitively in the professional era.

Beaten finalists this year, Leinster will renew rivalries with Racing 92, the club they beat to win their last European title in Bilbao back in 2018.

Leinster’s only previous time to host Racing in a European fixture was back in October 2010 at the RDS. Their incoming contact skills coach, Sean O’Brien, was a try-scoring player-of-the-match that day in a 38-22 bonus point win.

Leo Cullen’s charges have also pencilled in home-and-away clashes with Gloucester, the sides familiar with each other from pre-season friendlies down through the years but they have not met in Europe since 2007.

Meanwhile, Connacht are back in the EPCR Challenge Cup after three years in the top-tier competition, and they will take on Brive and Newcastle in their pool fixtures.

It will be a quick return to the Sportsground for Sam Arnold and Abraham Papali’i who both join the French club this summer.

Connacht last faced both sides during the pool stages of the 2015/16 tournament. They beat Brive (21-17) and Newcastle (25-10) in Galway, before losing the return games and exiting at the quarter-final stage to Grenoble.

Today’s pool draws were streamed live on epcrugby.com and presented by BT Sport’s Craig Doyle and Laura Tarbouriech from EPCR.

Benjamin Kayser and Elma Smit were the ball drawers for the Challenge Cup, while Kayser and Heineken Ireland Managing Director, Maarten Schuurman, drew the balls for the Champions Cup pools. The event scrutineer was Joe Tynan of PwC Ireland.

The exact dates of the pool fixtures in both tournaments, as well as venues, kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced as soon as practicable following consultation with teams and broadcasters.


POOL A (opponents in brackets):

Castres Olympique (Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh)
Saracens (Lyon, Edinburgh)
Bulls (Lyon, Exeter Chiefs)
Bordeaux-Bègles (Gloucester, Sharks)
Harlequins (Racing 92, Sharks)
LEINSTER (Racing 92, Gloucester)
Racing 92 (Harlequins, Leinster)
Gloucester (Bordeaux-Bègles, Leinster)
Sharks (Bordeaux-Bègles, Harlequins)
Lyon (Saracens, Bulls)
Exeter Chiefs (Castres Olympique, Bulls)
Edinburgh (Castres Olympique, Saracens)

POOL B (opponents in brackets):

Montpellier (London Irish, Ospreys)
Leicester Tigers (Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys)
Stormers (Clermont Auvergne, London Irish)
Toulouse (Sale Sharks, Munster)
Northampton Saints (La Rochelle, Munster Rugby)
ULSTER (La Rochelle, Sale Sharks)
La Rochelle (Northampton Saints, Ulster)
Sale Sharks (Toulouse, Ulster)
MUNSTER (Toulouse, Northampton Saints)
Clermont Auvergne (Leicester Tigers, Stormers)
London Irish (Montpellier, Stormers)
Ospreys (Montpellier, Leicester Tigers)


POOL A (opponents in brackets):

Glasgow Warriors (Perpignan, Bath)
Toulon (Zebre Parma, Bath)
Bristol Bears (Zebre Parma, Perpignan)
CONNACHT (Brive, Newcastle Falcons)
Cardiff (Brive, Newcastle Falcons)
Brive (Connacht, Cardiff)
Newcastle Falcons (Connacht, Cardiff)
Perpignan (Bristol Bears, Glasgow Warriors)
Zebre Parma (Bristol Bears, Toulon)
Bath (Toulon, Glasgow Warriors)

POOL B (opponents in brackets):

Scarlets (Bayonne, Cheetahs)
Pau (Dragons, Cheetahs)
Wasps (Dragons, Bayonne)
Lions (Stade Francais, Worcester Warriors)
Benetton (Stade Francais, Worcester Warriors)
Stade Francais (Lions, Benetton)
Worcester Warriors (Lions, Benetton)
Dragons (Pau, Wasps)
Bayonne (Scarlets, Wasps)
Cheetahs (Scarlets, Pau)


Round 1 – December 9/10/11, 2022
Round 2 – December 16/17/18, 2022
Round 3 – January 13/14/15, 2023
Round 4 – January 20/21/22, 2023

Round of 16 – March 31-April 1/2, 2023
Quarter-Finals – April 7/8/9, 2023
Semi-Finals – April 28/29/30, 2023

EPCR Challenge Cup Final – Friday, May 19, 2023, Aviva Stadium

Heineken Champions Cup Final – Saturday, May 20, 2023, Aviva Stadium