Brutal draw for Ulster Rugby in new look European Champions Cup

The inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup draw was made
The inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup draw was made

Ulster will face back-to-back European champions Toulon in the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup competition next year.

The big paying star-studded French club, who Jonny Wilkinson led to double Heineken Cup success in the past two seasons, are among the favourites to win the new look tournament.

Toulon and Ulster are drawn in what is a hugely competitive Pool Three along with English Premiership giants, Leicester Tigers and Welsh PRO12 side, Scarlets.

The new European tournament replaces the Heineken Cup, which ran for 19 years. The 20 clubs from the PRO12, English Premiership and French Top14, for the first time qualified on merit.

Recently crowned Aviva Premiership champions, Northampton Saints, were drawn in Pool Five of the and will face Racing Metro 92, Ospreys and Benetton Treviso when the 20th season of European club rugby kicks off in October while the top seeds from the Aviva Premiership, Saracens, will be up against two-time European champions, Munster Rugby, ASM Clermont Auvergne and Sale Sharks in a heavyweight Pool 1.

Leinster Rugby, who were the number one-ranked club from the Pro12, take on Castres Olympique, Harlequins and London Wasps in Pool 2, with the number two-ranked club from the Pro12, Glasgow Warriors, drawn in Pool 4 against Montpellier, Bath Rugby and Toulouse.

Exeter Chiefs, the number one-ranked Aviva Premiership club in the 2014/15 European Rugby Challenge Cup, find themselves in Pool 2 along with Bayonne, Connacht Rugby and La Rochelle.

The pool draws for both the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup - replacing the Amlin Challenge Cup - were compered by Craig Doyle of BT Sports and Raphael Ibanez, and conducted by three-time European tournament winner, Simon Shaw, and Scott Quinnell of Sky Sports.

The pool stage draws are:

2014/15 European Rugby Champions Cup

Pool 1: Saracens, Munster Rugby, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Sale Sharks

Pool 2: Leinster Rugby, Castres Olympique, Harlequins, London Wasps

Pool 3: RC Toulon, Leicester Tigers, Ulster Rugby, Scarlets

Pool 4: Glasgow Warriors, Montpellier, Bath Rugby, Toulouse

Pool 5: Northampton Saints, Racing Metro 92, Ospreys, Benetton Treviso

2014/15 European Rugby Challenge Cup

Pool 1: Cardiff Blues, London Irish, Grenoble, FIRA-AER 1

Pool 2: Exeter Chiefs, Bayonne, Connacht Rugby, La Rochelle

Pool 3: Stade Francais Paris, NG Dragons, Newcastle Falcons, FIRA-AER 2

Pool 4: Edinburgh Rugby, Bordeaux-Begles, London Welsh, Lyon

Pool 5: Gloucester Rugby, Brive, Zebre, Oyonnax

Pool stage dates

Round 1: 16/17/18/19 October 2014

Round 2: 23/24/25/26 October 2014

Round 3: 4/5/6/7 December 2014

Round 4: 11/12/13/14 December 2014

Round 5: 15/16/17/18 January 2015

Round 6: 22/23/24/25 January 2015