Leinster handed favourable draw
June 7, 2011
Leinster have been drawn alongside Bath, Glasgow and Montpellier © Getty Images
Aironi Bath Rugby Benetton Treviso Biarritz Cardiff Blues Castres Clermont Auvergne Connacht Edinburgh England France Glasgow Gloucester Rugby Harlequins Ireland Italy Leicester Tigers Leinster London Irish Montpellier Munster Northampton Saints Ospreys Saracens Scarlets Scotland Toulouse Ulster Wales
Reigning Heineken Cup champions Leinster have been handed a favourable draw in the race for next season's title, which culminates in the final at Twickenham in May.
Joe Schmidt's side have been drawn alongside Bath, Glasgow and Montpellier in Pool 3, with Northampton, beaten finalists in May, teamed with Munster, the Scarlets and Castres in Pool 1.
Scarlets boss Nigel Davies is expecting a tough challenge and also that there will only be one qualifier from the Pool.
"The key thing to getting out of this group is winning at home, we realised that last season and we just slipped up against Leicester," he said. "I don't think any of the teams in the Pool will be happy, but we will all think we are good enough to beat each other.
"One thing is for sure, there won't be two teams qualifying out of this Pool, I firmly believe the talent we have developed is good enough to compete at this level, but the players have to believe in themselves."
Aviva Premiership winners Saracens, drawn from tier three, will contest Pool 5 with French heavyweights Biarritz, the Ospreys and Benetton Treviso.
Toulouse, four-time European champions and this season's Top 14 winners, headline Pool 6, where tournament debutants Connacht have secured a dream tie. Completing the line-up in the group are Premiership rivals Gloucester and Harlequins - this year's Amlin Challenge Cup winners.
"Every team in the Heineken Cup is going to be tough, but I'm pretty happy with the draw," Quins fullback Mike Brown said. "We know Connacht pretty well, we seem to play them every year. Toulouse are a world class team with world class players.
"We played them a couple of years ago and did all right at home. We take a lot of confidence from beating Munster at Thomond Park and hopefully we can do something like that again."
Pool 2 pits Cardiff Blues against London Irish, Edinburgh and big-spending French side Racing Metro, who are now in their second season of Heineken Cup rugby. Exiles boss Toby Booth anticipates a fast-paced group.
"We're in the group of entertainment because there's a lot of positivity there in the way the game is played," he said. "Edinburgh play expansively, Racing Metro have a Harlem Globetrotters all-star line-up and Cardiff Blues only know one way to play as well. From that point of view it should bode for some entertaining rugby if nothing else."
Heineken Cup 2011-12 Pool draw:
Pool 1: Munster, Northampton, Scarlets, Castres
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
In the wake of another perfect November series, Monday Maul talks to NZRU CEO Steve Tew about the constant demand for perfection
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton