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Published: 14:05 | 29/6/16

European Rugby Champions Cup draw made

Irish provinces avoid big guns

The draw for the pool stages of the European Champions Cup has been made with all of the Irish sides avoiding reigning champions Saracens and French giants Toulon.

PRO12 champions Connacht are set to face Wasps, Toulouse and Zebre in Pool 2 as Pat Lam’s side prepare to reap the rewards for their superb performances last season.

Leinster can look forward to two trips to France in the pool stages as they are drawn with Montpellier and Castres along with old English rivals Northampton in Pool 4.

Ulster join Exeter, Clermont Auvergne and Bordeaux in Pool 5.

Meanwhile, Munster, who were seeded in the fourth tier of teams, face a tough task in Pool 1 alongside Leicester Tigers, Glasgow Warriors and Racing 92. However, they can take comfort that none of the other teams will have wanted the two-times champions as their fourth tier pick.

All four Irish provinces avoided reigning champions Saracens who have been drawn in a difficult pool alongside Toulon, Welsh side Scarlets and compatriots Sale.

The opening round of games is set for the weekend of October 13-16th, with round two following a week later.

There is a break for the Autumn internationals before the competition resumes on the weekend of December 8-11th, with round four following a week later.

The final two rounds of the pool stages are set for January 12-15th and January 19-22nd.

The final itself will take place in Murrayfield on Saturday, May 13th 2017.

ERCC Draw 2016/17

Pool 1: Racing 92, Glasgow, Leicester Tigers, Munster

Pool 2: Connacht, Wasps, Toulouse, Zebre

Pool 3: Saracens, Toulon, Scarlets, Sale

Pool 4: Leinster, Montpellier, Northampton, Castres

Pool 5: Exeter, Clermont, Ulster, Bordeaux.

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