Munster Set For Toulouse Rematch In Next Season’s Champions Cup

The pool draws for the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup tournaments were held today at the Aviva Stadium, the venue for next season’s finals. The cross-tier format has paired Munster and Toulouse together, just a few weeks on from their epic quarter-final at IRFU HQ that was decided by penalties. With Graham Rowntree taking the reins as head coach, the Munstermen will have home and away pool dates next December and January with Toulouse and Northampton Saints. Munster and Northampton last met during the 2011/12 tournament’s pool stages, when Ronan O’Gara, head coach of current champions La Rochelle, famously nailed a last-gasp winning drop goal at home and Simon Zebo scored a second half hat-trick at Franklin’s Gardens. O’Gara’s La Rochelle side are on Ulster’s radar this winter, bringing back memories of two terrific contests back in 2017/18 when the French club triumphed at home before tries from Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale and Nick Timoney helped Ulster gain revenge in Belfast. Dan McFarland’s men are also set to face Sale Sharks in pool action, the first time the two teams have played each other competitively in the professional era. Beaten finalists this year, Leinster will renew rivalries with Racing 92, the club they beat to win their last European title in Bilbao back in 2018. Leinster’s only previous time to host Racing in a European fixture was back in October 2010 at the RDS. Their incoming contact skills coach, Sean O’Brien, was a try-scoring player-of-the-match that day in a 38-22 bonus point win. Leo Cullen’s charges have also pencilled in home-and-away clashes with Gloucester, the sides familiar with each other from pre-season friendlies down through the years but they have not met in Europe since 2007. Meanwhile, Connacht are back back in the EPCR Challenge Cup after three years in the top-tier competition, and they will take on Brive and Newcastle in their pool fixtures. It will be a quick return to the Sportsground for Sam Arnold and Abraham Papali’i who both join the French club this summer. Connacht last faced both sides during the pool stages of the 2015/16 tournament. They beat Brive (21-17) and Newcastle (25-10) in Galway, before losing the return fixtures and exiting at the quarter-final stage to Grenoble. 2022/23 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP POOLS: POOL A: Tier 1 – Castres Olympique, Saracens, Bulls; Tier 2 – Bordeaux-Bègles, Harlequins, LEINSTER; Tier 3 – Racing 92, Gloucester, Sharks; Tier 4 – Lyon, Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh POOL B: Tier 1 – Montpellier, Leicester Tigers, Stormers; Tier 2 – Toulouse, Northampton Saints, ULSTER; Tier 3 – La Rochelle, Sale Sharks, MUNSTER; Tier 4 – Clermont Auvergne, London Irish, Ospreys 2022/23 EPCR CHALLENGE POOLS: POOL A: Tier 1 – Glasgow Warriors, Toulon, Bristol Bears; Tier 2 – CONNACHT, Cardiff, Brive, Newcastle Falcons; Tier 3 – Zebre Parma, Perpignan, Bath POOL B: Tier 1 – Scarlets, Pau, Wasps; Tier 2 – Lions, Benetton, Stade Francais, Worcester Warriors; Tier 3 – Dragons, Bayonne, Cheetahs HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP & EPCR CHALLENGE CUP WEEKENDS – 2022/23 SEASON: Round 1 – December 9/10/11, 2022 Round 2 – December 16/17/18, 2022 Round 3 – January 13/14/15, 2023 Round 4 – January 20/21/22, 2023 Round of 16 – March 31-April 1/2, 2023 Quarter-Finals – April 7/8/9, 2023 Semi-Finals – April 28/29/30, 2023 EPCR Challenge Cup Final – Friday, May 19, 2023, Aviva Stadium Heineken Champions Cup Final – Saturday, May 20, 2023, Aviva Stadium