Wasps and Tigers set for heavyweight clash

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The Independent Online

The Heineken Cup holders, Wasps, have been drawn in the same pool as Leicester Tigers - the first time two English sides have faced each other in the group stages - for this year's premier European competition.

The Heineken Cup holders, Wasps, have been drawn in the same pool as Leicester Tigers - the first time two English sides have faced each other in the group stages - for this year's premier European competition.

Wasps, who also won the Zurich Premiership final, begin their defence with a tough home tie against last season's beaten semi-finalists Biarritz at the end of October.

After a trip to play Calvisano, the runners-up in Italy last season, the heavyweight clash comes on the weekend of 4 December when Wasps host the Tigers, with the return leg the following weekend.

The Wasps and England captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, is relishing the chance to lock horns with the Tigers. "The games against Leicester Tigers are going to be huge affairs. We know each other inside out and there is a massive amount of respect for what they have achieved at Leicester," he said.

Dallaglio added: "It's great to be able to start with a home game to launch our title defence. Now that we know just how hard it is to win the Heineken Cup, we won't be taking anything for granted as we try to match Leicester Tigers' feat of making it back-to-back victories.

He added: "Biarritz were French champions two years ago and showed their class by beating Llanelli Scarlets away from home in the quarter-finals last season. They are bound to give us a really tough opener.

Bath, the Premiership's beaten finalists in May, have drawn Leinster, Treviso and Bourgoin.

Gloucester, who were knocked out in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals by Wasps, face Stade Français, Ulster and Cardiff Blues, while Northampton have last season's beaten finalists, Toulouse, Llanelli Scarlets and Glasgow.

Newcastle Falcons, hoping to have a fully fit Jonny Wilkinson, open their campaign at Newport Gwent Dragons before taking on Perpignan and Edinburgh.

Harlequins have been drawn with another 2004 semi-finalist Munster, Neath-Swansea Ospreys and Castres.

Draw for the 2004-05 Heineken Cup:

Pool 1: Wasps, Calvisano (It), Biarritz (Fr), Leicester.

Pool 2: Treviso (It), Leinster, Bath, Bourgoin (Fr).

Pool 3: Llanelli Scarlets, Glasgow, Northampton, Toulouse (Fr).

Pool 4: Munster, Neath-Swansea Ospreys, Castres (Fr), Harlequins.

Pool 5: Edinburgh, Perpignan (Fr), Newport-Gwent Dragons, Newcastle.

Pool 6: Stade Français (Fr), Ulster, Cardiff, Gloucester.

Round One, 22-24 October: Leicester v Calvisano, Wasps v Biarritz, Bath v Bourgoin, Treviso v Leinster, Glasgow v Northampton, Llanelli Scarlets v Toulouse, Castres v Neath-Swansea Ospreys, Munster v Harlequins, Perpignan v Edinburgh, Newport-Gwent Dragons v Newcastle, Ulster v Cardiff Blues, Stade Français v Gloucester.

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