Northampton open Heineken Cup with Munster challenge

Northampton will open their next tilt at the Heineken Cup title in a challenging pool containing European heavyweights Munster.

Saints, beaten 33-22 by Leinster in a gripping final last month, will meet the two-times winners who dumped them out in the knockout stages in 2010.



Pool 1 also includes Welsh region the Scarlets and French club Castres.









The draw has been kind to Leinster with the champions grouped alongside Bath, Glasgow and tournament debutants Montpellier.



English clubs have endured mixed fortunes, but London Irish have been granted one of the easier routes into the quarter-finals.



The Exiles will meet Cardiff Blues, who failed to reach the knockout stages this season, Edinburgh and big-spending Racing Metro in Pool 2.



Irish director of rugby Toby Booth anticipates a series of action-packed fixtures.



"We're in the group of entertainment because there's a lot of positivity there in the way the game is played," said Booth.



"Edinburgh play expansively, Racing Metro have a Harlem Globetrotters all-star line-up and Cardiff Blues only know one way to play as well.



"From that point of view it should bode for some entertaining rugby if nothing else."



Leicester have been matched with the ever-dangerous Clermont and Ulster, one of this season's quarter-finalists, with Aironi Rugby completing their group.



Aviva Premiership champions Saracens have managed to avoid any previous Heineken Cup winners, but Biarritz and Ospreys will provide challenging opposition.



Two English clubs occupy Pool Six with Harlequins and Gloucester competing with Connacht and perennial title challengers Toulouse for a spot in the last eight.



"Every team in the Heineken Cup is going to be tough, but I'm pretty happy with the draw," said Quins full-back Mike Brown.



"We know Connacht pretty well, we seem to play them every year. Toulouse are a world class team with world class players.



"We played them a couple of years ago and did all right at home.



"We take a lot of confidence from beating Munster at Thomond Park and hopefully we can do something like that again."



Pool 1: Munster, Northampton, Scarlets, Castres.



Pool 2: Cardiff Blues, London Irish, Edinburgh, Racing Metro.



Pool 3: Leinster, Bath, Glasgow, Montpellier.



Pool 4: Leicester, Clermont, Ulster, Aironi Rugby.



Pool 5: Biarritz, Ospreys, Saracens, Benetton Treviso.



Pool 6: Toulouse, Harlequins, Gloucester, Connacht.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future