Dai Young’s side piped the Ospreys to the Welsh Shield title on Judgement Day last season and will now face one of the two Top 14 teams at home and the other away. The same will happened with Gallagher Premiership clubs Bath and Harlequins.
The other club in Pool 2 is Ulster Rugby. They won’t face Cardiff as the two teams play in the same tournament.
The European competitions are moving back to a tried and tested multi-pool format for the 2023-24 campaign, with all roads leading to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the finals in May next year.
As ever, the Pool draw has thrown up a number of intriguing Champions Cup clashes between some of the world’s leading professional clubs ahead of the December’s kick-off.
Holders La Rochelle were drawn into next season’s ‘Pool of Death’in which they will meet Leinster in a repeat of last May’s compelling final. The back-to-back tournament winners will also go head-to-head with the Stormers, Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers either home or away. Stade Français Paris complete Pool 4.
In Pool 1, Gallagher Premiership winners, Saracens, will face off against the Bulls, Bordeaux-Begles, Lyon and Connacht. Bristol Bears are also drawn in Pool 1.
In Pool 3, URC winners, Munster, will meet Dan Biggar’s EPCR Challenge Cup winners Toulon. They will also face former champions Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints, as well as debutants, Bayonne, in a Pool that is completed by Glasgow Warriors.
The Champions Cup has two clubs from each of three leagues – TOP 14, Gallagher Premiership and United Rugby Championship (URC) – in each pool, and clubs from the URC’s Irish and South African shields were kept apart during the draw.
Tier 1 was made up of Stade Rochelais (Heineken Champions Cup winners), Stade Toulousain (TOP 14 winners), Saracens (Premiership winners) and Munster (URC winners). The remaining 20 clubs were either drawn or allocated into the four pools in keeping with the draw’s key principles.
During the pool stage, each club will play four matches against four different clubs which are not from the same league either home or away.
In the EPCR Challenge Cup, the Cell C Sharks will meet Pau, Oyonnax, Dragons and Invitee 1 in Pool 1, while Montpellier – tournament winners in 2016 and 2021 – are up against the Ospreys, Newcastle Falcons, the Lions and Benetton Rugby in Pool 2.
In Pool 3, former winners, Gloucester, will face ASM Clermont Auvergne, Castres Olympique, Edinburgh and Invitee 2.
The EPCR Challenge Cup has two TOP 14 clubs in each pool, the clubs from the URC’s South African, Welsh and Scottish-Italian shields were kept apart during the draw, as were the two Premiership clubs and the two invitees.
Clubs will play four matches against four different opponents during the pool stage with same-league matches kept to a minimum, and only impacting clubs from the URC.
The fixture schedules for both tournaments with dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage will be announced as soon as possible. Fixtures will be determined using an algorithm which will take into consideration the outcome of today’s draws, league calendar restrictions, individual club calendar restrictions and broadcast requirements.
With its new formats, the 2023/24 EPCR season will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December, followed by a knockout stage consisting of a Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, culminating in the London finals at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 24 and 25 May 2024.
2023/24 CHAMPIONS CUP
Pool 1: Saracens, Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Vodacom Bulls, Bristol Bears, Connacht Rugby, Lyon
Pool 2: Stade Toulousain, Cardiff Rugby, Bath Rugby, Racing 92, Harlequins, Ulster Rugby
Pool 3: Munster Rugby, Aviron Bayonnais, Glasgow Warriors, Exeter Chiefs, RC Toulon, Northampton Saints
Pool 4: Stade Rochelais, Stade Français Paris, Leicester Tigers, DHL Stormers, Leinster Rugby, Sale Sharks
2023/24 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP
Pool 1 : Invitee 1, Section Paloise, Dragons RFC, Zebre Parma, Oyonnax Rugby, Cell C Sharks
Pool 2: Ospreys, USAP, Newcastle Falcons, Emirates Lions, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Benetton Rugby
Pool 3: Edinburgh Rugby, Castres Olympique, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Invitee 2, Gloucester Rugby, Scarlets
Round 1 – 8/9/10 December 2023
Round 2 – 15/16/17 December 2023
Round 3 – 12/13/14 January 2024
Round 4 – 19/20/21 January 2024
Round of 16 – 5/6/7 April 2024
Quarter-finals – 12/13/14 April 2024
Semi-finals – 3/4/5 May 2024
EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 24 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Champions Cup final – Saturday 25 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium