Champs Toulouse to face Wasps
June 8, 2010
Who will succeed Toulouse as European Champions? © Getty Images
Heineken Cup champions Toulouse have been drawn alongside Wasps, Glasgow and Newport Gwent Dragons for next season's tournament, which will culminate with a final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Guy Noves' men will play their 111th tournament game in next season's opening round and present a massive challenge to their Pool 6 rivals, including Wasps, who return after a year away from Europe's top table.
Guinness Premiership champions Leicester will face losing Top 14 finalists Perpignan, as well as the Scarlets, who qualified thanks to Cardiff Blues winning the European Challenge Cup, and Treviso, one of two new Italian franchises.
The Blues secured a top six seeding with that triumph, and have been paired with Northampton Saints, Edinburgh and Castres, who enjoyed a strong domestic showing in France this season.
Cardiff's Welsh rivals the Ospreys have been handed a fiendishly difficult task. In Pool 3 they are joined by two-time champions Munster, London Irish and Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon, who have been bolstered this summer by the signings of George Smith and Carl Hayman.
The 2009 champions, Leinster, face a rerun of their quarter-final after being thrown in with newly-crowned Top 14 champions Clermont Auvergne. Completing Pool 2 are beaten Premiership finalists Saracens and tournament new boys Racing Metro.
This year's beaten finalists, Biarritz, find themselves in the middle of a rematch as they are drawn with Bath and Ulster, with the English side having lost to their Magners League rivals home and away in 2009-10. Completing Pool 4 is the other Italian side, Aironi.
Heineken Cup Pools for 2010-11
Pool 1: Cardiff Blues, Northampton Saints, Edinburgh, Castres Olympique
Pool 2: Leinster, Clermont Auvergne, Saracens, Racing Metro
Pool 3: Munster, Ospreys, London Irish, Toulon
Pool 4: Biarritz Olympique, Bath, Ulster, Aironi Rugby
Pool 5: Leicester Tigers, Scarlets, USAP Perpignan, Benetton Treviso
Pool 6: Toulouse, London Wasps, Glasgow, Newport Gwent Dragons