Heineken Cup - 2010-11
Toulouse welcome Wasps first-up
July 20, 2010
Toulouse kick-off their Heineken Cup defence against Wasps © Getty Images
Toulouse will kick off the defence of their Heineken Cup crown with a home tie against two-time champions Wasps on October 10.
The French side won their fourth European crown by defeating Biarritz in an all-French final at the Stade de France in May and will need maximum points from a taxing opener as they look to make strides towards the 2011 showpiece at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
Of the Welsh sides, the Ospreys have a fiendishly tough task in week one as they face Jonny Wilkinson's Heineken Cup debutants Toulon at the Stade Felix Mayol. Scott Johnson's side can take heart from their near neighbours, Cardiff Blues, who defeated Toulon in Marseille in May to win the European Challenge Cup.
The Blues face an all-Magners League tie in round one, at home to Edinburgh, while the Dragons travel to Firhill to face Glasgow Warriors. The Scarlets, meanwhile, welcome Perpignan to Parc y Scarlets.
Premiership champions Leicester are in Italy first-up, taking on Treviso, and Saracens travel to the Stade Marcel Michelin to take on French champions Clermont Auvergne.
Northampton, winners of the Heineken Cup in 2000, kick off the round against Castres at Franklin's Gardens, with London Irish following in the footsteps of the Saints by taking on Munster at home in their first game. Bath's campaign gets underway at the Rec, but they will face a Biarritz side burning with desire after another near-miss last season.
Leinster, winners in 2009, face another side making their tournament debut in Pierre Berbizier's Racing Metro and Ulster face the newly-minted Aironi franchise at Ravenhill.
Click Here for the full fixture list.
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
"I am not alone in believing this series could well be decided by who can steal most ball after the tackle." John Taylor previews the Lions' first Test showdown with Australia
"You can keep your Bullitt and French Connection car chases, this was the real thing." Tom Hamilton files his latest Tour Diary from Australia
"O'Driscoll's generosity says so much about the man and the team spirit that Gatland has fostered within the squad." Graham Jenkins reflects on what the Lions' latest win told us
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the British & Irish Lions tour and a feast of international rugby taking centre stage