More than one pool of death?
Tue, 10 Jun 2014 14:11
Usually there's only one group of death, but they all look tough pools
The new European Rugby Cup pools have been drawn and the competitive nature of the new tournament is evident with no easy pool being apparent.
For the first time, the competing clubs from the Premiership, the Top 14 and the Pro12 have qualified on merit.
Pool one as well as Pool three in the European Rugby Champions Cup are being hailed as the traditional 'pools of death'.
Saracens, Munster and Clermont Auvergne were all three play-off contenders for their relative domestic leagues this year, making Pool one hotly contested.
Toulon, European Cup holders at the moment, Leicester Tigers and Ulster are also massively strong teams that make up Pool three.
Recently crowned Premiership champions, Northampton Saints, have been drawn in Pool five alongside the Welsh regions strongest team, the Ospreys.
Leinster, who were the number one-ranked club from the Pro12, take on Castres Olympique, Harlequins and London Wasps in Pool two.
The number two-ranked club from the Pro12, Glasgow Warriors, drawn in Pool four are up against Montpellier, Bath and Toulouse.
New Munster Rugby Head Coach, Anthony Foley, described his side's opposition in Pool one of the new tournament as 'three handy teams'.
A master of the understatement, the man who led Munster to the first of their two European triumphs in Cardiff in 2006 went on to describe Saracens, Clermont Auvergne and Sale Sharks as 'fearsome opposition'.
"We have picked up three of the best teams in Europe in our pool and looking at the rest of the tournament I think this is an even stronger draw than in previous years,” said Foley.
"We have six massive games ahead of us and we will be looking to them all. I'm sure there are a few teams who won't be too happy about having Munster in their pool.
"We want to be playing in the big finals in May and to do that we are going to have to stop teams scoring easy points against us. We need to rectify that, especially when it comes to playing in the Champions Cup.”
The Ospreys Head Coach Steve Tandy says he is 'super-excited' with his club's draw and that the leading Welsh region 'won't be overawed'.
They will meet newly-crowned Premiership champions, Northampton Saints, for the second season in a row in Europe, as well as Top 14 semi-finalists, Racing Metro 92, and Benetton Treviso.
"With the changes to European rugby everybody knew that what was already a very tough competition would get even tougher this season, but when you look at that draw you have to be genuinely excited," said Tandy.
"I would say that players, the rest of the coaches and, particularly our supporters, will share that sentiment.
"It's going to be a fantastic, rollercoaster of a competition but we won't be overawed in any way.
"It's an awesome prospect and I can't wait to get started.
Sean Cronin, the Leinster and Ireland hooker, spoke for the whole of European rugby when he surveyed the five pools for the Inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup.
"Usually there's only one group of death, but they all look tough pools,” said the 2012 European Cup winner.
"We've got two trips to London which all the boys will be looking forward to.
"Hopefully there are a few Irish living in London who fancy coming along and giving us their support, as they did at Northampton last season.
"Leinster have a proud tradition in Europe and it will be a huge focus for us next season.
"We are judged on winning trophies and it was great to lift the Pro12 title and send everyone off for the summer break with a huge boost but we want to prove ourselves again in Europe next season, even though it will be strange not to have Leo [Cullen] and Brian [O'Driscoll] on the pitch.”
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
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