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Tough draws all-round for Welsh regions in Europe

Heineken Champions Cup draw

Tough draws all-round for Welsh regions in Europe

Dai Young’s Cardiff Rugby side will face reigning champions Toulouse and newly crowned English Premiership champions Harlequins in the pool stages of the Heineken Champions Cup next season.

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Cardiff were drawn in Pool B of the tournament along with the Scarlets, who will face Bordeaux-Begles and Bristol Bears. The Ospreys are in Pool A and they will face Racing 92 and Sale Sharks.

Toulouse completed the Champions Cup and TOP 14 double last month for the second time and have a lengthy history against Cardiff. The two teams met in the Welsh capital in the inaugural Heineken Cup final in 1996 and have since played seven times, four of which the French side have won.

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The Scarlets have never met Bristol before in the Champions Cup but face Bordeaux-Begles in the pool stages in 1998/99. They won at home and were beaten 48-10 away.

Toby Booth’s Ospreys side last faced Sale Sharks in the 2006-07 campaign, when they completed a pool doubt winning 17-16 at home and 18-7 away. They drew 19-19 at home against racing 92 in the 2014/15 season before going down to an 18-14 defeat in Paris.

The Scarlets reached the Round of 16 last season where they were beaten by Sale Sharks, who this season face the Ospreys having reached the play-off sin the English Premiership.

For the purposes of the draw, the 24 clubs which qualified from the TOP 14, Premiership, and the PRO14 were classified into four tiers based either on their respective league rankings or on other qualification criteria.

Each tier contained six clubs with Tier 1 made up of the number one and number two ranked clubs from each league, and Tier 2, the number three and number four ranked clubs from each league, and so on.

Starting with Tier 1, the clubs were either drawn or allocated into either Pool A or Pool B so that each pool contained 12 clubs with no clubs in the same tier from the same league in the same pool.

The key principles regarding the pool stage fixtures are that clubs will only play against opponents in the same pool, and clubs from the same league cannot play against one another.

The Tier 1 and Tier 4 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are from the same league, will play one another home and away over four rounds. The same principle applies to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league.

The exact dates of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures, as well as venues, kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced as soon as possible following consultation with clubs and EPCR’s partner broadcasters.

The 2021/22 tournament will be played over nine weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage. The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage which will consist of a Round of 16 on a home and away basis, quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the final in Marseille on 28 May 2022.

2021/22 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP

POOL A (opponents in brackets)
Stade Rochelais (Bath, Glasgow Warriors)
Exeter Chiefs (Montpellier, Glasgow Warriors)
Leinster Rugby (Montpellier, Bath)
Racing 92 (Northampton Saints, Ospreys)
Sale Sharks (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys)
Ulster Rugby (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Northampton Saints)
ASM Clermont Auvergne (Sale Sharks, Ulster)
Northampton Saints (Racing 92, Ulster)
Ospreys (Racing 92, Sale Sharks)
Montpellier Hérault Rugby (Exeter Chiefs, Leinster)
Bath Rugby (La Rochelle, Leinster)
Glasgow Warriors (La Rochelle, Exeter Chiefs)

POOL B (opponents in brackets)
Toulouse (Wasps, Cardiff)
Harlequins (Castres Olympique, Cardiff)
Munster Rugby (Castres Olympique, Wasps)
Union Bordeaux-Bègles (Leicester Tigers, Scarlets)
Bristol Bears (Stade Français Paris, Scarlets)
Connacht Rugby (Stade Français Paris, Leicester Tigers)
Stade Français Paris (Bristol Bears, Connacht)
Leicester Tigers (Bordeaux-Bègles, Connacht)
Scarlets (Bordeaux-Bègles, Bristol Bears)
Castres Olympique (Harlequins, Munster)
Wasps (Toulouse, Munster)
Cardiff Rugby (Toulouse, Harlequins)

Round 1 – 10/11/12 December
Round 2 – 17/18/19 December
Round 3 – 14/15/16 January 2022
Round 4 – 21/22/23 January 2022

Round of 16 (1st leg) – 8/9/10 April 2022
Round of 16 (2nd leg) – 15/16/17 April 2022

Quarter-Finals – 6/7/8 May 2022
Semi-Finals – 13/14/15 May 2022

Challenge Cup Final – Friday 27 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Heineken Champions Cup Final – Saturday 28 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

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