Saracens face tough draw in new European tournament


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The Independent Online

Heineken Cup runners-up Saracens were handed a tough group in next season's revamped European competition when the draw was made in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

The Londoners, who lost to Toulon in the last-ever Heineken Cup final last month, were drawn in Pool One of the new European Rugby Champions Cup alongside Munster, Clermont Auvergne and Sale.

Premiership champions Northampton, who beat Saracens in last month's domestic final, will be in Pool Five with Racing Métro, Ospreys and Treviso.

Leicester face the Heineken Cup winners and Top 14 champions, Toulon, as well as Ulster in another tricky group that includes Scarlets.

Harlequins are in Pool Two alongside the Pro12 champions Leinster, Castres and Wasps, while Bath are up against two heavyweight French sides in Pool Four, taking on Toulouse and Montpellier as well as Glasgow.

The five pool winners and three best runners-up will secure quarter-final places.

The European Rugby Champions Cup succeeds the Heineken Cup, which ran for 19 seasons. A new competition was decided upon in April comprising nine stakeholders – the six unions of competing teams, plus Premiership Rugby, France's Ligue Nationale de Rugby and Regional Rugby Wales.

Bordering on a new Europe

Draw for the 2014-15 European Rugby Champions Cup:

Pool 1 Saracens, Munster, Clermont Auvergne, Sale

Pool 2 Leinster, Castres, Harlequins, Wasps

Pool 3 Toulon, Leicester, Ulster, Scarlets

Pool 4 Glasgow, Montpellier, Bath, Toulouse

Pool 5 Northampton, Racing Métro, Ospreys, Treviso

Draw for the 2014-15 European Rugby Challenge Cup:

Pool 1 Cardiff Blues, London Irish, Grenoble, Fira 1 qualifier

Pool 2 Exeter, Bayonne, Connacht, La Rochelle

Pool 3 S Francais, Newport-Gwent, Newcastle, Fira 2 qualifier

Pool 4 Edinburgh, Bordeaux-Bègles, London Welsh, Lyon

Pool 5 Gloucester, Brive, Zebre, Oyonnax

Opening matches take place 16-19 Oct; final matches 22-25 Jan 2015