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Heineken Cup Draw Throws Up Some Crackers

European Cup rugby could be thrilling in 2011/12

Posted Jun 08, 2011 by Chris White

Leinster won the 2011 competition in a thriller against Northampton

Defending champions Leinster have been drawn against Bath, Glasgow and Montpellier in next season’s Heineken Cup in the draw made this week.

The Irish side beat Northampton 33-22 after a record comeback at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last month to win their second European Cup. Saints, on the other hand, have picked up a difficult draw.

Northampton will play Munster, Scarlets and Castres in the group stages as they look to avenge the heartbreak of this year’s tournament, which they lead 22-6 at half time before Jonathan Sexton took the game by the throat in the second half.

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder said: "The Heineken Cup is getting tougher and tougher each year and we've certainly got a challenging pool. We know how difficult it can be to play Munster and Castres from our games in the past two seasons, and Scarlets showed how dangerous they can be in their group games last year. This pool will be a good chance to see how much we have learned over the past couple of years. We've had another season together as a group and have played in some big occasions."

French side Toulouse, who have won the competition more times than any other, will be looking to add to their four titles in a group containing Connact and two English sides – Harlequins and Gloucester.

Leicester Tigers, like their Midlands rivals Northampton, were given a tough draw, facing French side Clermont Auvergne, Ulster, and the Italians, Aironi. Premiership champions Saracens have managed to avoid any previous winners of the competition, but twice-beaten finalists Biarritz and Welsh side Ospreys will provide challenging opposition, with Treviso completing group five.

London Irish have a tricky draw, but have avoided a lot of travelling, having been pulled out in group two with Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh and Racing Metro.

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