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Wasps boss Dai Young reflects on ‘very difficult’ Heineken Champions Cup draw

The Premiership club have been drawn in a tough group that also features Leinster, Toulouse and Bath.

Leinster’s celebrate winning the European Champions Cup Final at the San Mames Stadium, Bilbao.
Leinster’s celebrate winning the European Champions Cup Final at the San Mames Stadium, Bilbao.

Dai Young admits that Wasps have landed “a very difficult draw” in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

Wasps and their fellow former European title holders Bath have been bracketed in arguably the tournament’s toughest group.

Apart from the Premiership rivals meeting each other, they must also get to grips with reigning champions Leinster and French giants Toulouse, who boast eight European crowns between them.

“It’s a very difficult draw, but that is what you expect when you are playing against the best 19 other teams in Europe,” Young said.

“It’s exciting to be drawn with the defending champions and Toulouse, who have also won the competition several times. They will be great match-ups.

“We’ve also had some really good games with Bath in recent seasons, including a double-header in Europe three seasons back.

“They will all be tough games. We will have to be at our best to get through, but hopefully we will have a bit of luck this year and get to play these games when we are not carrying lots of injuries.”

The draw, which took place at Lausanne’s Olympic Museum in Switzerland, was much kinder to Premiership champions Saracens.

Saracens, who regained the Premiership title last month by beating Exeter at Twickenhan, have been drawn with Glasgow, Lyon and European Challenge Cup holders Cardiff Blues.

Newcastle – back in European rugby’s top-flight competition after a 14-year absence – face Montpellier, Toulon and Edinburgh.

Newcastle’s St James’ Park will play host to the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals next May, but the Falcons will have their work cut out to progress from a group that includes such a heavyweight French presence.

A west country derby lies ahead in Pool Two, with Premiership sides Exeter and Gloucester drawn together, and that quartet being completed by former European Cup winners Munster and reigning French champions Castres.

And Leicester, eliminated at the pool stage in their last Champions Cup campaign, must overcome 2018 runners-up Racing 92. in-form Scarlets and 1999 champions Ulster.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac. (Graham Stuart/PA Wire)

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: “A semi-final in last season’s competition is something that we are all immensely proud of, but equally just as disappointed that we didn’t play to the best of our abilities on that afternoon in Dublin (against Leinster).

“Getting a good start in these competitions is vital, and that’s something we failed to do last season.

“We will be looking to improve our performances in the opening rounds, look to build on last season’s success and ensure that we remain competitive in both domestic and European competitions.”

The draw for the Challenge Cup pools was also made, giving Northampton a reunion with familiar Champions Cup rivals Clermont Auvergne – Dragons and Romanian minnows Timisoara Saracens are also in their group – while Sale Sharks face Bordeaux Begles and Perpignan, plus Irish challengers Connacht.

2018-19 Heineken Champions Cup draw: Pool 1 – Leinster, Wasps, Toulouse, Bath; Pool 2 – Castres, Exeter, Munster, Gloucester; Pool 3 – Saracens, Glasgow, Lyon, Cardiff Blues; Pool 4 – Scarlets, Racing 92, Leicester, Ulster; Pool 5 – Montpellier, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Toulon.

2018-19 European Challenge Cup draw: Pool 1 – Northampton, Clermont Auvergne, Dragons, Timisoara Saracens; Pool 2 – Pau, Ospreys, Worcester, Stade Francais; Pool 3 – Sale Sharks, Connacht, Bordeaux-Begles, Perpignan; Pool 4 – La Rochelle, Zebre, Bristol, Enisei-STM; Pool 5 – Benetton, Harlequins, Agen, Grenoble.

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