Munster drawn in Heineken Champions Cup 'group of death'

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

Email:

ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

REVEALED: Munster learn Heineken Champions Cup pool opponents

The draw has been made for the pool stages of next season's Heineken Champions Cup

MUNSTER have learned their group opponents for next season's Heineken Champions Cup following the draw for the pool stages which took place in the Centre de Congrès Beaulieu, Lausanne, Switzerland, this Wednesday. 

Munster have been handed an extremely difficult draw, finding themselves in Pool 4 alongside reigning Heineken Champions Cup champions and current English champions Saracens, who defeated Johann van Graan's side in last season's semi-final.

Pool 4 also includes French Top 14 heavyweights Racing 92, who include Mike Prendergast in their backroom team and former Munster players Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo in their playing squad.

Munster's pool opponents is completed by Guinness Pro14 rivals Ospreys.

Speaking following the draw, Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan said: “This Pool is full of top quality sides and it will be a massive challenge.

“Saracens have just completed the double after winning the Champions Cup and the Premiership and everyone knows how strong they are.

“Munster and Racing have faced each other quite a few times in recent years, they are a side that have so many talented players in every position and have reached the final of the competition twice in the last four seasons.

“Ospreys are another quality outfit we know really well from the PRO14, they won more games than any other Welsh side in the league last year and showed how much the Champions Cup means to them with their excellent play-off win over Scarlets last month.

“It’s such a tough draw but that’s why it’s called the Champions Cup 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.”

Munster have reached the semi-final of the Heineken Champions Cup for the past three seasons.

Twenty clubs from Gallagher Premiership Rugby, the Guinness PRO14 and the TOP 14 have qualified on merit to compete in the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup. 

The first round fixtures in the Heineken Champions Cup will take place on the weekend of November 15-17. The later than normal start date is in order to avoid a clash with the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Heineken Champions Cup Pools 2019/2020

Pool 1: Leinster, Lyon, Northampton, Benetton

Pool 2: Exeter, Glasgow, La Rochelle, Sale

Pool 3: Clermont, Ulster, Harlequins, Bath

Pool 4: Saracens, Munster, Racing 92, Ospreys

Pool 5: Toulouse, Gloucester, Connacht, Montpellier

EPCR weekends – 2019/20 season
Round 1: November 15-17, 2019
Round 2: November 22-24, 2019
Round 3: December 6-8, 2019
Round 4: December 13-15, 2019
Round 5: January 10-12, 2020
Round 6: January 17-19, 2020
Quarter-finals: April 3-5, 2020
Semi-finals: May 1-3, 2020

2020 finals – Stade de Marseille
Challenge Cup final – Friday, May 22
Heineken Champions Cup final, Saturday, May 23