Last season's Champions Cup finalists Leinster and La Rochelle to clash againJul 13 | 1 min read
The biggest club competition in world rugby just got even bigger.
For the first time in the history of the Heineken Cup, three sides from South Africa will join the race to become kings of Europe with the introduction of United Rugby Championship winners DHL Stormers, Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks.
As ever BT Sport, the home of the Heineken Champions Cup until 2024, will show live coverage of every single game each weekend and all eyes will be on South Africa's trio of upstarts as they look to crash the party.
Read on for the results so far, previews of the remaining weekend games, plus team news and live stream details.
Castres 12-27 Exeter Chiefs
Sunday 11 December
Sale Sharks will be looking to build on their steady progress in Europe when they take on 1999 Heineken Cup winners Ulster on opening weekend.
The Salford outfit have made the quarter-finals in the previous two seasons, losing out to La Rochelle in 2021 and Racing last year.
With the addition of England internationals Jonny Hill and George Ford, the Sharks will have one eye on a maiden Heineken Cup crown.
Deemed surplus to requirement by England of late, Ford has hit the ground running since returning to his hometown and the ex-Bath and Leicester man will be chomping at the bit to prove his worth to Eddie Jones' England successor.
“I think it’s probably the most hotly contested tournament you can play in,” said Ford. “You’re playing against all the top teams in Europe and every game you play in, from the group stage
“And if you’re lucky enough to make it through the group stage, the knockout stages are probably the closest to Test level you can come to.
“To be successful in it is a pretty special thing to do, so that what makes it special as a player to play in."
Three-time winners Saracens return to European rugby's top table for the first time since their relegation to the Championship in 2020.
Mark McCall's men reached the Premiership play-off final in their first season back in the top flight, but this is there foray into the Heineken Cup since exiting the competition at the semi-final stage against Racing.
Sarries entertain an Edinburgh side returning to Europe's premier club competition after dropping into the ECPR Challenge Cup last season.
The Scottish side topped a Challenge Cup pool containing Saracens and London Irish, beating Bath in the last 16 before coming unstuck against Wasps in the quarter-finals.
Now Mike Blair's men will be hoping to spring a shock at the StoneX for the second time in 12 months after beating Saracens on the opening weekend of last season's Challenge Cup.
The pick of Sunday's Heineken Cup offering sees two-time winners Munster take on five-time champions Toulouse in a clash of European royalty.
The two famous old sides go head-to-head on opening weekend just seven months on from their quarter-final epic at the Aviva Stadium.
Deadlocked at 24-24 after 100 minutes of rugby, the match had to be settled by a penalty shootout, with defending champions Toulouse progressing to the last four.
Now Munster are out for revenge with new head coach Graham Rowntree at the helm following Johann van Graan's move to Bath in the summer.
The Limerick side are back at Thomond Park after a Ed Sheran gig forced them to play last season's quarter-final tie at the Aviva Stadium.
Premiership champions Leicester open up their Heineken Cup campaign against Ospreys with the future of head coach Steve Borthwick in doubt.
Eddie Jones was sacked as England head coach earlier this week after seven years in charge following a lacklustre autumn campaign.
The RFU say they have begun the process of hiring Jones' successor but Borthwick is understood to be the frontrunner to replace the Australian.
Borthwick has been the mastermind behind Leicester's return to the top table of English rugby, culminating in last season's Premiership title triumph - their first since 2012.
Leicester's quest for European silverware ended in a quarter-final defeat to eventual runners-up Leinster last season, and the East Midlanders will be desperate to keep hold of Borthwick as they mount another tilt at a first Heineken Cup since 2002.