Irish sides learn their Champions Cup pools

Irish sides learn their Champions Cup pools

Leinster will once again face La Rochelle in next season's Champions Cup, as the two teams were drawn together in Pool 4 for the 2023/24 season.

It has been just over four weeks since Ronan O'Gara's side defeated Leinster in last season's final, marking their second consecutive victory over the province. La Rochelle also emerged victorious against Leinster in the 2021 semi-final.

In addition to the defending champions, Leo Cullen's team will compete against Stade Francais, Leicester Tigers, and Sale Sharks in their pool matches. Two of these games will be played at home, while the remaining two will be played away.

The DHL Stormers complete Pool 4, but Leinster will not face their fellow United Rugby Championship (URC) side.

Meanwhile, Munster, the winners of the BKT United Rugby Championship, will likely be satisfied with their draw in Pool 3.

Under the guidance of Graham Rowntree, Munster will encounter familiar opponents in Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs from the Premiership. They will also face French teams Toulon and Bayonne, who finished seventh and eighth respectively in the Top 14. The group is completed by Glasgow Warriors.

Ulster has been assigned a challenging task in Pool 2, where Dan McFarland's team will compete against Racing 92, five-time winners Toulouse, Harlequins, and Bath. Cardiff, another URC side, is also part of this pool.

Connacht's return to the Champions Cup will see them reunited with their former coach, Pat Lam.

Under the leadership of Pete Wilkins, Connacht will face Lam's Bristol, Premiership winners Saracens, as well as French sides Bordeaux-Begles and Lyon.

The specific schedule of the games is yet to be confirmed, as the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) stated that an algorithm will determine the home and away fixtures for each team.

The top four teams from each pool will advance to the Round of 16, while the four fifth-place teams will move on to the Challenge Cup.

Pool 1: Saracens, Bordeaux-Begles, Vodacom Bulls, Bristol Bears, Connacht, Lyon

Pool 2: Toulouse, Cardiff, Bath, Racing 92, Harlequins, Ulster

Pool 3: Munster, Bayonne, Glasgow, Exeter, Toulon, Northampton Saints

Pool 4: La Rochelle, Stade Francais, Leicester Tigers, DHL Stormers, Leinster, Sale Sharks

2023/24 season:

Round 1 – 8/9/10 December 2023

Round 2 – 15/16/17 December 2023

Round 3 – 12/13/14 January 2024

Round 4 – 19/20/21 January 2024

Round of 16 – 5/6/7 April 2024

Quarter-finals – 12/13/14 April 2024

Semi-finals – 3/4/5 May 2024

Champions Cup final – Saturday 25 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium