With the Pools now known for the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup, we take look in detail at the sides that will be competing in next season’s competition, starting with Pool 1.
Ground: RDS Arena, Dublin, Ireland.
European Cup record: Leinster lifted the trophy for a fourth time in 2018, joining Toulouse as the most successful club in European rugby, having also won the tournament in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Last season: The defending champions put in a herculean attempt to defend their crown, topping Pool 1 before seeing off Ulster Rugby and pool rivals Toulouse in the knockout stages. In the Newcastle final they were 10-0 up against Saracens before eventually succumbing to a 20-10 defeat.
Head coach: Leo Cullen captained the province to their first three European Cup victories, before retiring in 2014 to become forwards coach. He took over as head coach in 2015 and remains the only person to have won the European Cup as a player and a coach.
New signings: Ireland U20 wing Cian Kelleher has joined Leinster after impressing with Connacht Rugby in the last few seasons.
Ground: Stade de Gerland, Lyon, France.
European Cup record: Lyon will make their second appearance in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, having previously featured exclusively in the Challenge Cup until last term.
Last season: Lyon finished without any points in Pool 3, losing both matches against Saracens, Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff Blues.
Head coach: Former ASM Clermont Auvergne and RC Toulon scrum-half Pierre Mignoni became Lyon head coach in 2015, and got the French side promoted from Pro D2 at the first attempt. He has since signed a new deal at Lyon, extending his stay until 2023.
New signings: France prop Demba Bamba returns to the Lyon squad, after spending last year on loan at Pro D2 side Brive, earning several French caps in the process. Other new signings include prop Xavier Chiocci and wing Josua Tuisova.
Ground: Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton, England.
European Cup record: The Saints have won the European Cup once, in 2000, when they defeated Munster Rugby 9-8 in a tense final at Twickenham, with fly-half Paul Grayson kicking all Northampton’s points. They are also two-time winners of the Challenge Cup (2009 & 2014).
Last season: Northampton reached the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, before being beaten 61-39 by pool rivals and eventual winners ASM Clermont Auvergne.
Head coach: New Zealander Chris Boyd took over at Northampton in August 2018, when his Super Rugby commitments with Hurricanes ended. The 59-year-old had been head coach there since 2014 and led them to the Super Rugby title in 2016.
New signings: They have made several important additions to a strong squad, including former All Black centre Matt Proctor, Crusaders prop Owen Franks and Saracens scrum-half Henry Taylor.
Ground: Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso, Italy.
European Cup record: Benetton have yet to reach the knockout stages in 20 attempts.
Last season: The Italian side won four of their six pool matches in the Challenge Cup, but they finished a point shy of qualifying for the quarter-finals as one of three best runners-up.
Head coach: Kieran Crowley has been in charge of Benetton since 2016 and led them to the PRO14 quarter-finals last season. He had previously been Canada’s head coach.
New signings: Fly-half Ian Keatley is a notable addition for Benetton. The 32-year-old has European experience with Connacht and Munster, as well as seven caps for Ireland.