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ROG's Racing to take on Munster in Champions Cup, Connacht and Toulouse meet again

Here’s what the cornerstones of your province’s season will look like.

Connacht players after their thrilling Challenge Cup with Grenoble last season.
Connacht players after their thrilling Challenge Cup with Grenoble last season.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

TOP SEEDS CONNACHT will take on Wasps and Toulousein their Champions Cup pool this season after the draw took place in Neuchatel.

Tier four-seeded Munster will look to avenge last season’s pool exit with Leicester Tigers again pitted against them, but the presence of Ronan O’Gara as Racing 92′s defence coach will make the French champions’ trip to Limerick all the more appetising.

Leinster and Ulster had contrasting fortunes in the seeding draw as the eastern province were promoted to top seeds while Les Kiss’ side dropped to the third tier. Compared to last season, Leo Cullen will see it as a much more favourable draw, though difficult trips to Montpellier, Northampton and Castres lay ahead.

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Ulster, who were the closest Ireland came to a Champions Cup knockout fixture last season, will have to take on Exeter, Clermont as well as Ian Madigan’s Bordeaux before going one better this season.

Champions Cup pools 2016/17

Pool 1: Racing 92, Glasgow, Leicester, Munster.

Pool 2: Connacht, Wasps, Toulouse, Zebre.

Pool 3: Saracens, Toulon, Scarlets, Sale Sharks

Pool 4: Leinster, Montpellier, Northampton, Castres.

Pool 5: Exeter Chiefs, Clermont, Ulster, Bordeaux.

The draw for the Challenge Cup was also made in Neuchatel today, with last season’s beaten finalists Harlequins given a tough task against Edinburgh and 2015 French champions Stade Francais. The Dragons meanwhile, must follow Connacht’s footsteps and make the long trek to face Enisei STM in Russia.

Challenge Cup pools 2016/17

Pool 1: La Rochelle, Gloucester, Treviso, Bayonne

Pool 2: Ospreys, Grenoble, Newcastle, Lyon

Pool 3: Brive, Worcester, Dragons, Enisei STM

Pool 4: Cardiff Blues, Bath, Pau, Bristol

Pool 5: Harlequins, Edinburgh, Stade Francais, Timisoara.

Though the full fixtures have yet to be confirmed, the first round of European fixtures next season will be on the weekend of 14 October. Round two will come a week later and the traditional back-to-back clashes will come in the fortnight before Christmas, on the weekends of 10 and 17 December.

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Sean Farrell

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