The 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup is now just around the corner, with this season’s groundbreaking competition preparing to kick off on Friday night.

The addition of three South African clubs to the already elite mix of sides is set to make for an enthralling tournament, as 24 teams go head-to-head for the prestigious trophy.

London Irish welcome Montpellier Hérault Rugby on Friday in the opening game of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, with kick-off in that Pool B encounter at 20:00 (UK & Irish time).

Wing Ollie Hassell-Collins has been in scintillating form for Irish in the Gallagher Premiership and will be looking for a try on his Heineken Champions Cup debut, while fellow Englishman Zach Mercer is poised to be a key figure at No.8 for Montpellier ahead of his move to Gloucester Rugby next summer.

On Saturday, the action gets underway at 13:00 as last season’s finalists, Leinster Rugby, travel to Racing 92 in Pool A, with that game providing a fascinating match-up at fly-half where Ireland’s Johnny Sexton, gunning for his fifth EPCR star with the Irish province, and Scotland’s Finn Russell go head-to-head.

At the same time, Cell C Sharks make their Heineken Champions Cup bow at home to Harlequins in Pool B. Quins centre André Esterhuizen returns to his former club, while Cell C Sharks fly-half Boeta Chamberlain will be one to keep an eye on given his kicking form in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

DHL Stormers are the next South African side to debut, with their Pool B clash with ASM Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel-Michelin starting at 15:15. Clermont wing Damian Penaud, who starred in last season’s competition, will face a stern test in the form of DHL Stormers counterpart Leolin Zas.

Louis Rees-Zammit is another lightning wing likely to be involved as Gloucester Rugby mark their return to the Heineken Champions Cup at the same time. They host Union Bordeaux-Bègles in Pool A.

Reigning champions Stade Rochelais entertain Northampton Saints in Pool B at 17:30. Lock Will Skelton, a monumental figure in La Rochelle’s victory in the 2022 final, is set for a heavyweight clash with recent England debutant David Ribbans.

Also at 17:30, the Heineken Champions Cup heads to Pretoria for the first time as Vodacom Bulls host last season’s EPCR Challenge Cup winners, Lyon, in Pool A. Wing Kurt-Lee Arendse is one of a host of big South African names set for their Heineken Champions Cup debuts.

Saturday’s matches finish at 20:00, when 2020 winners Exeter Chiefs visit Castres Olympique in Pool A. No.8 Sam Simmonds, EPCR Player of the Year in 2020, is primed for another big campaign, while Castres wing Filipo Nakosi often catches the eye with his superb footwork.

On Sunday, Sale Sharks face Ulster Rugby at AJ Bell Stadium, with that Pool B contest kicking off at 13:00. Two elite back-row forwards are set to do battle there in Sale’s Tom Curry and Ulster’s Nick Timoney.

There is a repeat of last season’s thrilling quarter-final at 15:15 in Pool B, when Munster Rugby host Stade Toulousain, with the Irish province look to exact revenge for that incredible place-kick competition defeat.

Munster fly-half Joey Carbery comes into the game off the back of a superb display in the URC, but he is facing one of the best in the world in Toulouse playmaker Romain Ntamack.

Three-time champions Saracens are also in action at 15:15, with Edinburgh Rugby heading to StoneX Stadium on their return to the competition.

Saracens’ England prop, Mako Vunipola, clashing with Edinburgh’s Scotland international, WP Nel, in the front row could make for tasty viewing.

Ospreys are at home to Leicester Tigers at 17:30 as what promises to be an exhilarating opening round concludes. Two British & Irish Lions scrum-halves could be on show in Swansea, in Ospreys’ Rhys Webb and Leicester’s Ben Youngs.

BT Sport and beIN SPORTS will once again broadcast every Heineken Champions Cup match throughout the pool and knockout stages.

Coverage of the South African sides who will be making their historic first steps in the tournament – DHL Stormers, Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks – will be fronted by SuperSport, while EPCR also has a new agreement with FloRugby who will be broadcasting to fans in the USA.

There is additional free-to-air coverage of certain games through ITV, RTÉ, S4C and France TV.

Click HERE for the full fixture list including all broadcast information.