Heineken Champions Cup pools confirmed: Harlequins, Exeter and London Irish face South African opposition as The Stormers, Bulls and Sharks join European club rugby's premier competition

Everything you need to now about the draw for the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup as South African teams Stormers, Sharks and Bulls join for the first time

Published: 28 June 2022 - 2.43pm
Heineken Champions Cup trophy

Less than a month on from La Rochelle's historic triumph over Leinster in the final of the Heineken Champions Cup, focus turns to next season and the 2022/23 campaign.

And in the biggest shake up to the world's greatest club competition for a generation, the upcoming campaign will feature teams from the southern hemisphere as three South African clubs join the race to be crowned kings of Europe.

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All eyes will be on the competition's newcomers as The Stormers, Bulls and Sharks join European rugby's elite.

The Stormers will be looking to upset the apple cart just months after beating compatriots Bulls to end Leinster's four-year stranglehold over the United Rugby Championship.

Meanwhile Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle will be looking to go back-to-back after winning their first piece of silverware in the club's history.

Elsewhere Leinster will have revenge on their minds after ending the season trophyless for the first time since 2017, while two-time winners Saracens are back on the European stage after two years away. 

It all makes for a compelling pool stage as the great and good of European rugby discover renew battle. 

Heineken Champions Cup pools 2022/23

Pool A (with opponents in brackets) 

Castres (Exeter Chiefs and Edinburgh) 

Saracens (Lyon and Edinburgh) 

Bulls (Lyon and Exeter Chiefs) 

Bordeaux-Begles (Gloucester and Sharks) 

Harlequins (Racing and Sharks) 

Leinster (Racing and Gloucester) 

Racing (Harlequins and Leinster)

Gloucester (Bordeaux and Leinster) 

Sharks (Bordeaux and Harlequins)

Lyon (Saracens and Bulls)

Exeter (Castres and Bulls)

Edinburgh (Castres and Saracens)

 

Pool B (with opponents in brackets) 

Montpellier (London Irish and Wasps)

Leicester (Clermont and Ospreys)

Stormers (Clermont and London Irish)

Toulouse (Sale Sharks and Munster)

Northampton (La Rochelle and Munster)

Ulster (La Rochelle and Sale Sharks)

La Rochelle (Northampton and Ulster)

Sale Sharks (Toulouse and Ulster)

Munster (Toulouse and Northampton)

Clermont (Leicester and Stormers)

London Irish (Montpellier and Stormers)

Ospreys (Montpellier and Leicester) 

How does the pool stage draw work?

The 24 qualified clubs will be in four tiers based on their finishes from the Top 14, Gallagher Premiership and the United Rugby Championship.

Those teams will then be divided into two pools of 12 - Pool A and Pool B.

The number one and two ranked teams in each domestic competition have been placed in Tier 1.

Teams that finished third and fourth in their domestic leagues are in Tier 2, with fifth and sixth in Tier 3 and seventh and eighth-placed sides completing Tier 4.

Clubs from Tier 1 and 4 will be drawn in the same pool and will play one another home and away over four pool-stage rounds - as long as they are not from the same domestic league. 

Top 14

Tier 1

Castres

Tier 2

Bordeaux

Tier 3

La Rochelle

Tier 4

Clermont

Top 14

Tier 1

Montpellier

Tier 2

Toulouse

Tier 3

Racing

Tier 4

Lyon

Premiership

Tier 1

Leicester Tigers

Tier 2

Harlequins

Tier 3

Gloucester

Tier 4

Exeter

Premiership

Tier 1

Saracens

Tier 2

Northampton

Tier 3

Sale Sharks

Tier 4

London Irish

URC

Tier 1

Stormers

Tier 2

Leinster

Tier 3

Munster

Tier 4

Edinburgh

URC

Tier 1

Bulls

Tier 2

Ulster

Tier 3

Sharks

Tier 4

Ospreys

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Top 14

Castres

Bordeaux

La Rochelle

Clermont

Top 14

Montpellier

Toulouse

Racing

Lyon

Premiership

Leicester Tigers

Harlequins

Gloucester

Exeter

Premiership

Saracens

Northampton

Sale Sharks

London Irish

URC

Stormers

Leinster

Munster

Edinburgh

URC

Bulls

Ulster

Sharks

Ospreys

Clubs from the same league and tier will not be drawn into the same pool. For example, Saracens cannot be in the same group as Premiership champions Leicester.

However, teams from the same competition can face each other as long as they are not in the same tier, so Leicester could face Exeter from Tier 4.

The same goes for sides drawn in the same pool from Tier 2 and 3 with the same restrictions on teams from the same domestic league.

For example, the Stormers, who beat compatriots the Bulls to win the URC at the first time of asking, will be drawn against one French side in Clermont or Lyon, and one English side in Exeter Chiefs or London Irish from Tier 4.

Similarly, Leicester Tigers, who triumphed in the Premiership final, will also be in Tier 1 and will be drawn against either Clermont or Lyon, and against either Edinburgh Rugby or Ospreys from Tier 4.

Meanwhile defeated Top 14 semi-finalists Bordeuax-Begles and Toulouse will be drawn against either Gloucester Rugby or Sale Sharks, and against either the Sharks or Munster from Tier 3.

When will the pool stage fixtures be confirmed?

Confirmation of kick-off times and TV coverage will be announced on bt.com/sport as soon as possible.

The 2022/23 season will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December.

The knockouts include a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, culminating in the Dublin finals at the Aviva Stadium May 20, 2023.

Key dates for 2022/23 season


Round 1: Weekend commencing December 9

Round 2: Weekend commencing December 16

Round 3: Weekend commencing January 13

Round 4: Weekend commencing January 20

Round of 16: Weekend commencing March 31

Quarter-finals: Weekend commencing April 7

Semi-finals: Weekend commencing April 28

Heineken Champions Cup final: Saturday 20 May