The holders, Stade Toulousain, will be up against Wasps and Cardiff Rugby in the pool stage of next season’s Heineken Champions Cup following the pool draw for the 2021/22 tournament which was held today (Wednesday 21 July) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Stade Toulousain, who completed the Heineken Champions Cup and TOP 14 double last month for the second time in the club’s history, were drawn into Pool B and will meet Wasps and Cardiff over four pool stage rounds on a home and away basis.
With the qualified clubs drawn into two pools of 12, reigning Gallagher Premiership champions Harlequins will have Castres Olympique and Cardiff as their opponents in Pool B when the tournament kicks off again in December, while last season’s PRO14 winners, Leinster Rugby, are in Pool A where they will be up against Montpellier Hérault Rugby and Bath Rugby.
Stade Rochelais, runners-up in the Heineken Champions Cup final, will meet Bath and Glasgow Warriors in Pool A, while Exeter Chiefs, who lost out to Harlequins in the Premiership decider, will take on Montpellier and Glasgow in Pool A.
Munster Rugby, who were in Tier 1 as the second-ranked qualifier from the PRO14, were drawn against Castres Olympique and Wasps in Pool B.
Elsewhere, Ulster Rugby will take on ASM Clermont Auvergne and Northampton Saints in Pool A whilst Stade Français Paris were drawn into Pool B and will take on Pat Lam’s former club, Connacht Rugby, and his current charges, Bristol Bears.
For the purposes of the draw, the 24 clubs which qualified from the TOP 14, Premiership, and the PRO14 were classified into four tiers based either on their respective league rankings or on other qualification criteria.
Each tier contained six clubs with Tier 1 made up of the number one and number two ranked clubs from each league, and Tier 2, the number three and number four ranked clubs from each league, and so on.
Starting with Tier 1, the clubs were either drawn or allocated into either Pool A or Pool B so that each pool contained 12 clubs with no clubs in the same tier from the same league in the same pool.
The key principles regarding the pool stage fixtures are that clubs will only play against opponents in the same pool, and clubs from the same league cannot play against one another.
The Tier 1 and Tier 4 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are from the same league, will play one another home and away over four rounds. The same principle applies to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league.
The exact dates of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures, as well as venues, kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced as soon as possible following consultation with clubs and EPCR’s partner broadcasters.
The 2021/22 tournament will be played over nine weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage. The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage which will consist of a Round of 16 on a home and away basis, quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the final in Marseille on 28 May 2022.
Today’s draw, which was live-streamed on HeinekenChampionsCup.com, was conducted by EPCR’s Head of Events and Operations, Ben Harries, and by EPCR’s Partnerships Activation Executive, Laia Gonzalez. The event scrutineer was Lausanne-based solicitor, Jean-Guillaume Amiguet.
2021/22 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
POOL A (with opponents in brackets)
Stade Rochelais (Bath Rugby, Glasgow Warriors)
Exeter Chiefs (Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Glasgow Warriors)
Leinster Rugby (Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Bath Rugby)
Racing 92 (Northampton Saints, Ospreys)
Sale Sharks (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys)
Ulster Rugby (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Northampton Saints)
ASM Clermont Auvergne (Sale Sharks, Ulster Rugby)
Northampton Saints (Racing 92, Ulster Rugby)
Ospreys (Racing 92, Sale Sharks)
Montpellier Hérault Rugby (Exeter Chiefs, Leinster Rugby)
Bath Rugby (Stade Rochelais, Leinster Rugby)
Glasgow Warriors (Stade Rochelais, Exeter Chiefs)
POOL B (with opponents in brackets)
Stade Toulousain (Wasps, Cardiff Rugby)
Harlequins (Castres Olympique, Cardiff Rugby)
Munster Rugby (Castres Olympique, Wasps)
Union Bordeaux-Bègles (Leicester Tigers, Scarlets)
Bristol Bears (Stade Français Paris, Scarlets)
Connacht Rugby (Stade Français Paris, Leicester Tigers)
Stade Français Paris (Bristol Bears, Connacht Rugby)
Leicester Tigers (Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Connacht Rugby)
Scarlets (Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Bristol Bears)
Castres Olympique (Harlequins, Munster Rugby)
Wasps (Stade Toulousain, Munster Rugby)
Cardiff Rugby (Stade Toulousain, Harlequins)
Round 1 – 10/11/12 December
Round 2 – 17/18/19 December
Round 3 – 14/15/16 January 2022
Round 4 – 21/22/23 January 2022
Round of 16 (1st leg) – 8/9/10 April 2022
Round of 16 (2nd leg) – 15/16/17 April 2022
Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 May 2022
Semi-finals – 13/14/15 May 2022
Challenge Cup final – Friday 27 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 28 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Brive Preview: Andy Friend
With two wins from two in this seasons Challenge Cup Connacht will look to keep their 100% record going this weekend as they face Brive at The Sportsground on Saturday.
Last Saturday saw Connacht beat South African side Sharks in the URC and getting a bonus point win. Speaking ahead of the European tie this weekend Connacht Director of Rugby Andy Friend spoke about the mood in the camp this week.
“With the conditions we had it was lovely to get the win but the bonus point as the name suggests was a bonus” said Friend
“Its very hard to play rugby in those conditions”
“All the scores were slightly different and as a team we felt there was a lot of areas there that we were really happy with coming off the field”
“Our defence was brilliant with a 91% success rate which is the level we’re at and need to keep at”
“Its a happy camp heading into this weeks game but as always we have things to work on”
With everything to play for in both competitions for Connacht Andy feels now is where the squads depth will be really tested especially with a few injuries mounting up.
“Both competitions are important to us and both are still alive, it is good to be back in the Challenge Cup as we are two from two so we would like to continue that momentum”
“In terms of our squad I think the rotation has worked well for us by keeping players fresh”
“We have a few injuries mounting up so we are probably forced to make a couple of changes”
Brive have been in good form of late with three wins from their last three games but with two defeats in the Challenge Cup already questions will be asked about their commitment and if that seeps into the Connacht players mind that this could be an easy day out.
“I think we faced that last week against the Sharks as there was a lot of talk about them resting some of their big players but at the end of the day it was still a Sharks team and we had to be ready” said Friend
“It will be the same for Brive this weekend, post our last game with them they have beaten Clermont, Lyon and Toulon”
“They’re playing good footie and finding that winning mentality and they will be coming here wanting to turn the table on us”
It was announced this week that Connacht’s Attack and Skills coach Mossy Lawler is heading to Munster at the end of the season. The departure will see two of Connacht’s coaching setup leave with this season being Andy Friend’s final season with the province.
“Mossy has been brilliant during his time here at Connacht” said Friend
“As we know he’s a Limerick man, his family is in Limerick so its great he can be closer to his wife and kids”
“I’m pleased for Mossy that he has this opportunity to move home”
“He will be missed here no doubt about that”
“In terms of the wider coaching ticket there’s a process in place at the moment and I have no doubt it will be a strong coaching ticket next year”
Tickets for Saturday’s game available HERE
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
All you need to know: Connacht v Brive
It’s back to European Rugby this Saturday as we welcome French side CA Brive to The Sportsground for Round 3 of the Challenge Cup.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s game.
When’s the game?
Kick-off is 5.30pm on Saturday 14th January.
What’s the state of play so far?
After two wins from two in their opening Round games of Europe Connacht find themselves in a great position to make the knockout stages of the tournament. Last weekend in the URC Connacht beat the Sharks at home 24-12.
Brive are in good form of late having won their last three games in the Top 14 including a 26-17 win over Toulon last weekend.
How’s our recent record against them?
Our last meeting against Brive was back in December where Connacht won 31-24.
- Bri 24-31 Con
- Con 55-10 Bri
- Bri 31-38 Con
How will the two teams line up?
The Connacht management team will announce their squad on Friday at midday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.
How do I get tickets?
Tickets available HERE
What channel is it on?
TV viewing on EPCR TV and Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
Andy Friend: Preview to Brive
Connacht are on the road this week as they travel to France to take on CA Brive this Friday at the Stade Amedee-Domenech in Round 2 of the Challenge Cup, kick-off is 8pm Irish time.
Connacht Director of Rugby Andy Friend was speaking ahead of the game where he discussed last Saturday’s win over Newcastle Falcons at The Sportsground.
‘It was a game where I thought our tenacity and physicality shone through which was pleasing”
“They were a tough side and you know when you are playing an English side that they are going to be big and physical and Newcastle brought were”
“In the end we were happy with the overall all performance”
The attitude from the players this season have been pleasing for Andy and the coaching team but as a whole the squad are still aiming to play their best game.
“I think with each game that goes by there’s a strong belief in our identity which is that never say die attitude” said Friend.
“I know we still need to be better at finishing off some of those opportunities we get”
“We still haven’t played our best game yet but our forward pack continues to grow, defensively we’ve worked really hard so things are coming together and more consistency is showing”
Last Saturday saw some new faces get game time and ahead of this Friday there’s a chance of seeing more change.
“We have good competition for selection this week”
“It was great seeing the likes of Cathal Forde out at the weekend, Oisin McCormack got his first cap and did very well and no doubt you will see a few different names and faces this weekend too”
This Friday its the challenge of Brive in France. French sides at home are always a tough opposition to face but after their heavy defeat to Cardiff last weekend in Wales could Brive have their minds solely on domestic rugby now?
“It will be interesting to see what team they put out”
“We know on the road French sides tend to take it a bit easier with their selection but at home they are very proud of their record so we want to go over there and play against their best side to test ourselves”
The Connacht team for Friday will be announced this Thursday.
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby