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Champions Cup draw pits Munster against Saracens and Racing 92

Beaten finalists Leinster will go up against Lyon, Northampton and Benetton.

Peter O’Mahony dejected Peter O'Mahony applauds Saracens after their encounter in Coventry this year. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

MUNSTER HAVE BEEN pitted against reigning champions Saracens along with familiar foes Racing 92 for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup pool stage after the tournament draw was held today.

Both sides will bring painful memories for fans for the southern province as they ended their Champions Cup hopes at the semi-final stage in the past two seasons.

On their return to the top tier of European competition, Connacht will renew their rivalry with Toulouse in Pool 5, with Gloucester also due a return to the Sportsground after their 2018 Challenge Cup quarter-final win.

“It’s such a tough draw but that’s why it’s called the Champions Cup,” said Munster head coach Johann van Graan, “and that’s why we want to be in this competition, it will be a very exciting challenge for us and it is one that we are looking forward to.”

Ulster will hope to again reach at least the knock-out stages after a pool phase against Clermont Auvergne, Bath and Harlequins.

In order to reach Marseille in May and a third consecutive final, 2019 runners-up  Leinster have the much less foreboding task of navigating past Lyon, Northampton Saints and Benetton.

Head coach Leo Cullen, in a statement released by the province, reacted to the draw by saying:

“Today was the first day of pre-season for us in UCD so to now have the full Heineken Champions Cup draw confirmed, in addition to last week’s confirmed Guinness PRO14 conferences, it definitely sharpens the mind for the considerable task ahead this season.

“We have seen over the last few years just how difficult it is to compete in this competition and as always the first priority will be to get out of our pool and doing that in Pool 1 will not be easy.”

Owen Farrell converts Owen Farrell kicks a conversion against Leinster in Newcastle. Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

The seeding draw brought Exeter Chiefs and Clermont Auvergne into a tier one place, leaving Ulster and Glasgow Warriors in tier 2. Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle and Northampton Saints were selected from tier 3 (see why here).

Due to the World Cup, the opening four rounds of pool fixtures will be played across five weekends, kicking off on 15 November, with the closing rounds of the pool arriving in early January as normal.

Champions Cup pool draw 2019/20

Pool 1

Leinster

Lyon

Northampton Saints

Benetton

Pool 2

Exeter Chiefs

Glasgow Warriors

La Rochelle

Sale Sharks 

Pool 3

Clermont Auvergne

Ulster

Harlequins

Bath

Pool 4

Saracens

Munster

Racing 92

Ospreys

Pool 5

Toulouse

Gloucester

Connacht

Montpellier 

A view of the Heineken Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup ahead of today's draw Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The Challenge Cup draw took place ahead of the Champions Cup and saw Scarlets paired with Toulon, two years on from their feisty encounters at the same stage of the Champions Cup.

Declan Kidney’s London Irish join them in Pool 2 alongside Bayonne, who are also newly promoted for the coming season after winning France’s Pro D2.

Challenge Cup pool draw 2019/20

Pool 1

Castres Olympique

Worcester Warriors

Dragons

Enisei STM

Pool 2

Scarlets

Toulon

London Irish

Bayonne

Pool 3

Wasps

Edinburgh

Bordeaux Begles

Agen

Pool 4

Stade Francais

Bristol Bears

Zebre

Brive

Pool 5

Cardiff Blues

Leicester Tigers

Pau

Calvisano

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