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Munster face tough pool draw as provinces to learn Champions Cup opponents

The draw for the 2019/20 competition takes place in Lausanne this afternoon.

LESS THAN A month after Saracens were crowned champions of Europe for the third time in Newcastle, the first steps on the road to Marseille 2020 will be mapped out in Lausanne this afternoon.

All four Irish provinces take their place in the draw for the 2019/20 Champions Cup pool stages, after Andy Friend’s Connacht secured their return to the top table of European rugby through the Pro14 last term.

Saracens celebrate with the Heineken Champions Cup Saracens are the defending champions. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The western province join Leinster, beaten in last season’s final, Munster, Ulster and the 16 other qualified clubs in today’s draw, which will be made by Dimitri Yachvili and Bryan Habana at 1pm.

The following clubs have qualified for next season’s Champions Cup: 

Gallagher Premiership: Saracens, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester Rugby, Northampton Saints, Harlequins, Bath Rugby, Sale Sharks.

Guinness Pro14: Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Warriors, Munster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Benetton Rugby, Ospreys.

Top 14: Toulouse, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Lyon, La Rochelle, Racing 92, Montpellier.

Saracens, Leinster and Toulouse will each be guaranteed a top ranking in Tier 1 on account of their domestic success in the Premiership, Pro14 and Top 14 respectively, but Munster — placed in Tier 2 — face a tough draw.

The 20 clubs will be divided into four tiers of five and a preliminary draw will be conducted to establish the other Tier 1 sides, with two of the three second-ranked clubs — Exeter Chiefs, Glasgow Warriors and ASM Clermont Auvergne — joining Saracens, Leinster and Toulouse in the top tier. 

Once the make-up of Tier 1 has been established, the remaining three tiers will fall into place.

Tier 2 will include the three third-ranked clubs from the leagues — Gloucester Rugby, Munster Rugby and Lyon — as well as the second-ranked club which was not drawn into Tier 1 and the fourth-ranked club from the same league as the club which was not drawn into Tier 1.

Tier 3 will include the two clubs ranked fourth which are not in Tier 2 as well as the three fifth-ranked clubs from each league — Harlequins, Connacht and Racing 92. Tier 4 is already complete and contains the sixth-ranked clubs from each league — Bath Rugby, Benetton Rugby and Montpellier — as well as Sale Sharks and the Ospreys.

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 17.55.26 Source: EPCR

Once the composition of each Tier is complete, the main draw for the five pools of four teams will be made, with each pool containing at least one club from each of the three leagues. 

Every team in a pool will play each other home and away and the five pool winners and three best runners-up will progress to the quarter-final stage.

Due to the World Cup, the pool stages will get underway later than usual, with the first round of games set for the weekend of 15/16/17 November 2019. 

  • Round 1: 15/16/17 November 2019
  • Round 2: 22/23/24 November 2019
  • Round 3: 6/7/8 December 2019
  • Round 4: 13/14/15 December 2019
  • Round 5: 10/11/12 January 2020
  • Round 6: 17/18/19 January 2020
  • Quarter-finals: 3/4/5 April 2020
  • Semi-finals: 1/2/3 May 2020
  • Final: Saturday 23 May 2020, Stade de Marseille.

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Ryan Bailey

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