Heineken Champions Cup Pool Draw 2018/2019
Season 2017/2018 hasn’t yet ended for some of the players who played this year and yet today saw the draws for the Champions Cup Pools for the 2018/2019 season. Leinster have been drawn in Pool 1 alongside Bath, Toulouse and Wasps. As defending champions Leinster were top seeds and as such would have felt they would have gotten an easier than normal group. Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster can be pleased with how the cards have fallen for their squad. They will know each time well having faced side in recent years.
Leinster have lost the experience of Isa Nacewa but have moved quickly and added Joe Tomane to their squad. He has been capped by Australia and has European experience with Montpellier with whom he has just spent three years. Also as defending champions there will real expectations that they can defend the crown they won less than 6 weeks ago.
Munster have been drawn in Pool 2 alongside familiar foes, Castres who were crowned Top 14 champions by defeating Montpellier on the 26th of May in Paris. They will also face two teams from the Gallagher Premiership namely Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester. Exeter will travel to Irish Independent Park for a pre season game in August and after today’s events that game will now carry extra significance in terms of making plans for the Champions Cup game later in the year.
Gloucester will also be significant because Gerbrandt Grobler whohas just spent a year with Munster has just signed for them and he could have some key inside information for his new team in how to crack the Munster code.
Ulster have been placed in Pool 4 along with Racing 92 the new home to Simon Zebo , Scarlets and Leicester Tigers. Not an easy Pool for new Ulster head coach Dan Mc Farland to get his head around but with his coaching team of Dwayne Peel , Aaron Dundon he will have two men who have been here before and he was also with Connacht in the Challenge Cup a few years ago. Jordi Murphy will add some quality to the back row and also his experience will be invaluable for the first few months of next year.
Connacht are in a Pool in the Challenge Cup with Sale Sharks , Perpignan who have just signed Paddy Jackson on a two year deal and Bordeaux Begles so Andrew Friday will have a tough introduction to European rugby with two trips to France along with a tricky trip to Manchester to face Sale Sharks. Of course Kieran Keane was sacked at the conclusion of last season and replaced by Friday who has been in charge of the Australian 7s side in the past.
He will hopefully bring fresh ideas to the table to help and get Connacht back playing the type of rugby that saw them win the Pro 12 back in 2016. They had some very mixed performances last year in Europe and domestically and will hope now that the dawn of a new era can begin for season 2018/2019.
Cian Mc Gibney