European Rugby Champions Cup: Tough tests for Saints and Saracens in 2014/15 pool stage
Last Updated: 10/06/14 3:00pm
Toulon are crowned European champions in 2014
Northampton and Saracens have been handed tough draws in the pool stage of the new European Rugby Champions Cup.
Saints, who beat Saracens in last month's Aviva Premiership final, will be in Pool Five alongside Racing Metro, Ospreys and Treviso.
Sarries, who also lost to Toulon in last month's Heineken Cup final in Cardiff, are in Pool One with Munster, Clermont Auvergne and Sale Sharks.
Harlequins are in Pool Two alongside Leinster, Castres and Wasps, while Leicester face Toulon, Ulster and Scarlets.
Bath are joined by Glasgow Warriors, Montpellier and Toulouse in Pool Four.
The five pool winners and three best runners-up will secure quarter-final places.
The European Rugby Champions Cup succeeds the Heineken Cup, which ran for 19 seasons, and was forged in April following an agreement between the nine stakeholders after almost two years of negotiations.
Pool One is arguably the hardest group, but Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond is already looking forward to the test.
He said: "This is a fantastic new competition and we are delighted to be part of it. We have been drawn against three of the best clubs in the competition and it will be a great experience for everyone connected to the club both on and off the field."
New Munster head coach Anthony Foley added: "We have picked up three of the best teams in Europe in our pool and looking at the rest of the tournament I think this is an even stronger draw than in previous years.
"We have six massive games ahead of us and we will be looking to them all. I'm sure there are a few teams who won't be too happy about having Munster in their pool."
Reflecting on the Pool 2 draw, Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: "We always knew it would be a tough pool after qualifying as bottom seed, but my initial reaction is one of excitement.
"We know it will be a massive challenge for us as a squad and rugby department, but it's the kind of challenge we are all really looking forward to."
Leinster hooker Sean Cronin added: "Usually there's only one group of death, but they all look tough pools. Leinster have a proud tradition in Europe and it will be a huge focus for us next season."
Full pool draw:
Pool 1: Saracens, Munster, Clermont Auvergne, Sale Sharks
Pool 2: Leinster, Castres, Harlequins, London Wasps
Pool 3: Toulon, Leicester Tigers, Ulster, Scarlets
Pool 4: Glasgow Warriors, Montpellier, Bath, Toulouse
Pool 5: Northampton Saints, Racing Metro, Ospreys, Treviso
Round 1: October 16/17/18/19 2014
Round 2: October 23/24/25/26 2014
Round 3: December 4/5/6/7 2014
Round 4: December 11/12/13/14 2014
Round 5: January 15/16/17/18 2015
Round 6: January 22/23/24/25 2015