Champions Cup: Pool draws announced as South African sides join Europe’s club competitions

Adam Kyriacou

The Champions Cup pools have been announced, with the introduction of South African sides leading to a complicated new format.

The Bulls, Sharks and Stormers are ready to join the top tier club competition in 2022/23 after impressing in this past campaign’s United Rugby Championship.

They will be eager to shine in the Champions Cup while the Cheetahs and Lions take part in the Challenge Cup in a new-look format across both tournaments.

Sides travelling down to South Africa for pool matches in the elite competition include London Irish (Stormers), Exeter Chiefs (Bulls) and Harlequins (Sharks).

EPRC announced that all 24 sides will take on two teams home and away across four rounds of pool fixtures in December and January, with the top eight sides coming out of each pool moving into a Round of 16, which will be followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final, which takes place at the Aviva Stadium.

Premiership champions Leicester Tigers will meet Clermont and Ospreys while beaten finalists Saracens will tackle Lyon and Edinburgh in their pool meetings.

URC giants Leinster meanwhile clash with Racing 92 and Gloucester while Munster take on Toulouse and Northampton, with Ulster getting La Rochelle and Sale.

In the Challenge Cup, Bath are handed pool games with Toulon and Glasgow while Worcester face the Lions and Benetton and Wasps meet Dragons and Bayonne.

Champions Cup draw

Pool A (opponents in brackets)

Castres (Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh)
Saracens (Lyon, Edinburgh)
Bulls (Lyon, Exeter Chiefs)
Union Bordeaux-Bègles (Gloucester, Sharks)
Harlequins (Racing 92, Sharks)
Leinster (Racing 92, Gloucester)
Racing 92 (Harlequins, Leinster)
Gloucester (Bordeaux-Bègles, Leinster)
Sharks (Bordeaux-Bègles, Harlequins)
Lyon (Saracens, Bulls)
Exeter Chiefs (Castres, Bulls)
Edinburgh (Castres, Saracens)

Pool B (opponents in brackets)

Montpellier (London Irish, Ospreys)
Leicester Tigers (Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys)
Stormers (Clermont Auvergne, London Irish)
Toulouse (Sale Sharks, Munster)
Northampton Saints (La Rochelle, Munster)
Ulster (La Rochelle, Sale Sharks)
La Rochelle (Northampton Saints, Ulster)
Sale Sharks (Toulouse, Ulster)
Munster (Toulouse, Northampton Saints)
Clermont Auvergne (Leicester Tigers, Stormers)
London Irish (Montpellier, Stormers)
Ospreys (Montpellier, Leicester Tigers)

Challenge Cup draw

Pool A (opponents in brackets)

Glasgow Warriors (Perpignan, Bath)
Toulon (Zebre Parma, Bath)
Bristol Bears (Zebre Parma, Perpignan)
Connacht (Brive, Newcastle Falcons)
Cardiff (Brive, Newcastle Falcons)
Brive (Connacht, Cardiff)
Newcastle Falcons (Connacht, Cardiff)
Perpignan (Bristol Bears, Glasgow Warriors)
Zebre Parma (Bristol Bears, Toulon)
Bath (Toulon, Glasgow Warriors)

Pool B (opponents in brackets)

Scarlets (Bayonne, Cheetahs)
Pau (Dragons, Cheetahs)
Wasps (Dragons, Bayonne)
Lions (Stade Francais, Worcester Warriors)
Benetton (Stade Francais, Worcester Warriors)
Stade Francais (Lions, Benetton)
Worcester Warriors (Lions, Benetton)
Dragons (Pau, Wasps)
Bayonne (Scarlets, Wasps)
Cheetahs (Scarlets, Pau)

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