All 44 clubs in EPCR’s tournaments, including five first-time representatives from South Africa, now know their opponents for the 2022/23 season following the pool draws for the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup which were staged today (Tuesday 28 June) at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

The Heineken Champions Cup holders, Stade Rochelais, will be up against Northampton Saints and Ulster Rugby in Pool B, while the recently-crowned URC winners, the Stormers from Cape Town, are also in Pool B and will play home and away against London Irish and ASM Clermont Auvergne.

Leicester Tigers, who triumphed in the Gallagher Premiership final, will clash with the Ospreys and Clermont in Pool B, and Montpellier Hérault Rugby, who won the TOP 14 title for the first time in the club’s history, will be pitted against London Irish and the Ospreys again in Pool B.

URC finalists, the Bulls, will face Exeter and Lyon in Pool A, while the Sharks were also drawn into Pool A where they will clash with Harlequins and Union Bordeaux-Begles.

Four-time champions, Leinster Rugby, will go head-to-head with Gloucester Rugby and Racing 92 again in Pool A, and Munster Rugby will renew their rivalry with Stade Toulousain and Northampton in Pool B.

In the EPCR Challenge Cup, newcomers, the Lions from Johannesburg, were drawn against Stade Francais Paris and the Worcester Warriors in Pool B, while the Cheetahs, who will play their ‘home’ matches in Europe, will face Scarlets and Section Paloise also in Pool B.

For the Heineken Champions Cup draw, the 24 qualified clubs were in four tiers based on their rankings from the TOP 14, Gallagher Premiership and the URC, before being drawn into two pools of 12 – Pool A and Pool B. Clubs from the same league in the same tier were not drawn into the same pool.

The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away over four pool stage rounds, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.

The 20 EPCR Challenge Cup clubs were divided into three tiers in order to create two pools of 10 – Pool A and Pool B. Clubs from the same league cannot play against one another during the pool stage.

The Tier 1 and the Tier 3 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away over four pool stage rounds.

The Tier 2 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage. In order to adhere to the key principle of no same-league matches, Tier 2 clubs from the TOP 14 will only play against opposition from the URC, and similarly, Tier 2 clubs from the Premiership will also only play against opposition from the URC.

The event, which was streamed live on epcrugby.com, was presented by Craig Doyle (BT Sport) and Laura Tarbouriech (EPCR) with Ben Kayser and Elma Smit as ball drawers for the EPCR Challenge Cup, while Kayser and the Heineken Ireland Managing Director, Maarten Schuurman, drew the balls for the Heineken Champions Cup pools. The event scrutineer was Joe Tynan of PwC Ireland.

The exact dates of the pool stage fixtures in both tournaments, as well as venues, kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced as soon as practicable following consultation with clubs and broadcasters.

The 2022/23 EPCR season will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December, followed by a knockout stage consisting of a Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, culminating in the Dublin finals at the Aviva Stadium on 19 and 20 May 2023.

2022/23 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP

POOL A (with opponents in brackets)
Castres Olympique (Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh Rugby)
Saracens (Lyon, Edinburgh Rugby)
Bulls (Exeter Chiefs, Lyon)
Union Bordeaux-Bègles (Gloucester Rugby, Sharks)
Harlequins (Racing 92, Sharks)
Leinster Rugby (Racing 92, Gloucester Rugby)
Racing 92 (Harlequins, Leinster Rugby)
Gloucester Rugby (Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Leinster Rugby)
Sharks (Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Harlequins)
Lyon (Saracens, Bulls)
Exeter Chiefs (Castres Olympique, Bulls)
Edinburgh Rugby (Castres Olympique, Saracens)

POOL B (with opponents in brackets)
Montpellier Hérault Rugby (London Irish, Ospreys)
Leicester Tigers (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys)
Stormers (ASM Clermont Auvergne, London Irish)
Stade Toulousain (Sale Sharks, Munster Rugby)
Northampton Saints (Stade Rochelais, Munster Rugby)
Ulster Rugby (Stade Rochelais, Sale Sharks)
Stade Rochelais (Northampton Saints, Ulster Rugby)
Sale Sharks (Stade Toulousain, Ulster Rugby)
Munster Rugby (Stade Toulousain, Northampton Saints)
ASM Clermont Auvergne (Leicester Tigers, Stormers)
London Irish (Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Stormers)
Ospreys (Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Leicester Tigers)

2022/23 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP

POOL A (with opponents in brackets)
Glasgow Warriors (USAP, Bath Rugby)
RC Toulon (Zebre Parma, Bath Rugby)
Bristol Bears (Zebre Parma, USAP)
Connacht Rugby (CA Brive, Newcastle Falcons)
Cardiff Rugby (CA Brive, Newcastle Falcons)
CA Brive (Connacht Rugby, Cardiff Rugby)
Newcastle Falcons (Connacht Rugby, Cardiff Rugby)
Zebre Parma (Bristol Bears, RC Toulon)
USAP (Glasgow Warriors, Bristol Bears)
Bath Rugby (Glasgow Warriors, RC Toulon)

POOL B (with opponents in brackets)
Scarlets (Aviron Bayonnais, Cheetahs)
Section Paloise (Dragons, Cheetahs)
Wasps (Aviron Bayonnais, Dragons)
Lions (Stade Français Paris, Worcester Warriors)
Benetton Rugby (Stade Français Paris, Worcester Warriors)
Stade Français Paris (Lions, Benetton Rugby)
Worcester Warriors (Lions, Benetton Rugby)
Dragons (Section Paloise, Wasps)
Aviron Bayonnais (Scarlets, Wasps)
Cheetahs (Scarlets, Section Paloise)

2022/23 key dates
Round 1 – 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2 – 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4 – 20/21/22 January 2023
Round of 16 – 31 March/ 1/2 April 2023
Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023
Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April 2023
EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 19 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin