Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport Leinster lift the trophy in Twickenham.

Heineken Cup pool draw: as it happened

Check out who the Irish provinces have been grouped with for the 2012/13 season.

It hasn’t been a month since Leinster and Ulster met in the 2012 final at Twickenham but already the time has come to look ahead to next season’s competition.

We are liveblogging the draw here from 11.15am so stay with us to see who the Irish provinces will face.

Welcome along, folks. The road (albeit, not very long one) to Dublin starts here. All four of Ireland’s provinces are present in this morning’s draw for the group stages of the 2012/13 Heinken Cup, with a place in May 18 final at Lansdowne Road the ultimate goal.

We’re just a few minutes away from getting going at the Aviva now.

Champions Leinster and Munster find themselves in Tier 1, this year’s beaten finalists Ulster are in Tier 2, while Connacht sit in Tier 3. Each Tier 1 team will be drawn in seperate pools and no pool will have more than one club from the same country with the exception of France, as there are seven French clubs in next season’s competition.

Tier 1 – Leinster, Toulouse, Biarritz Olympique, Munster, Cardiff Blues, Northampton Saints

Tier 2 – ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ulster, Leicester Tigers, Harlequins, Toulon, Edinburgh

Tier 3 – Ospreys, Scarlets, Glasgow Warriors, Saracens, Connacht , Sale Sharks

Tier 4 – Castres Olympique, Benetton Treviso, Racing Metro 92, Montpellier, Exeter Chiefs, Zebre (Zebras)

Just when you thought you’d seen enough of Craig Doyle on the television, up he pops again. For anyone wanting to watch live, you can follow it on the ERC website or on the TG4 player.

For Twitter reaction, #ercpooldraw seems the thing to do.

A montage of last season’s tournament just been showed, now we’re getting some pre-draw chit-chat. Get on with it already.

ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux is standing alongside the 24 balls and ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath has the six pool balls so we’re ready to go. As champions, Leinster will be the first team out.

We’re halfway through and it’s looking like this so far:

Pool 1 – Munster, Edinburgh

Pool 2 – Toulouse, Leicester

Pool 3 – Biarritz, Harlequins

Pool 4 – Northampton, Ulster

Pool 5 – Leinster, Clermont Auvergne

Pool 6 – Cardiff Blues, Toulon

Here you are then, all six pools have been filled:

Pool 1Munster, Edinburgh, Saracens, Racing Metro.

Pool 2 – Toulouse, Leicester, Ospreys, Treviso.

Pool 3 – Biarritz, Harlequins, Connacht, Zebras.

Pool 4 – Northampton, Ulster, Glasgow, Castres.

Pool 5Leinster, Clermont, Scarlets, Exeter.

Pool 6 – Cardiff Blues, Toulon, Sale, Montpellier.

That’s that, then. Holders Leinster face French side Clerment again, having beaten them in last season’s semi-final and also take on debutants Exeter.

Munster are grouped with another of 2011/12 semi-finalist in Edinburgh as well as Saracens and Racing Metro, while Ulster are handed fixtures with Northampton, Glasgow and Castres.

Connacht, who made their bow in the competition last season, will meet Biarritz, Harlequins and newly-formed Zebras, meanwhile.

What are your thoughts?

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