Belfast Telegraph

Ulster to face Scarlets, Racing and Leicester in Champions Cup

Craig Gilroy in action the last time Ulster faced Leicester
Craig Gilroy in action the last time Ulster faced Leicester
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Ulster have been drawn into Pool Four of the 2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup alongside Scarlets, Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers.

The Irish province have been grouped with the Guinness PRO14 runners-up, French semi-finalists and two-time European champions in a tough pool.

If Ulster are to progress into the knockout stages for the first time since 2014 then it is clear they will need to be on top of their game.

They will be well aware of the threat the Scarlets possess having come up against them in the league so many times, with a large Welsh contingent well coached by Kiwi Wayne Pivac.

Racing 92, meanwhile, are twice European runners-up - including last season when they lost to Leinster in the final in Bilbao - and are part of the big-spending French revolution.

The Parisiens, owned by Jacky Lorenzetti, boast vast wealth and have a fleet of superstars at their disposal, with the likes of Camille Chat, Dominic Bird, Leone Nakarawa, Finn Russell and Teddy Thomas on the books.

They also have a strong Irish connection with Donnacha Ryan among their second row stocks, while full-back Simon Zebo will join them for next season as well.

Meanwhile, Leicester are European heavyweights in their own right having won the tournament twice in their history, even if they aren't quite at that level anymore.

Ulster fans will have fond memories of Welford Road, however, as it is the venue of one of their most famous victories when they went six from six in the 2013/14 pool stage.

They are still a formidable outfit though, with England internationals Dan Cole and Manu Tuilagi complemented by imports such as Matt Toomua and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

The fixtures will be released later this summer.

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