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Rugby News

Who's who in Euro pool for new season

The draw for the Heineken Champions Cup has put Leicester Tigers into Pool 4 with Scarlets, Racing 92 and Ulster. Here’s our guide to the pool’s rich European heritage.

Leicester Tigers

Five-time European Cup finalists, Tigers have fallen at the pool stages in each of the last two seasons after being beaten by Racing 92 in the 2015/16 semi-finals.  

Tigers finished fifth in the Aviva Premiership in 2017/18 and will welcome forwards David Denton, Will Spencer and Guy Thompson among the signings for the new campaign.

Racing 92

The Paris club are paired with Tigers for a fourth successive year – meeting in the semi-final at the City Ground, Nottingham in 2016 and in the pool stages in the last two seasons.

They recorded a home-and-away double over Tigers in 2017/18 on their way to the and went all the way to the Final before being beaten 15-12 by Leinster.

Since Tigers made the trip to Paris last season, Racing have moved out of their historic Yves-du-Manoir into a sparkling new stadium.

After finishing the regular season in second place in their domestic Top14 table, they were beaten at home by eventual champions Castres in the semi-final.

All Blacks legend Dan Carter moves on in the summer but new arrivals include Scotland fly-half Finn Russell and Ireland’s Simon Zebo.


European Cup semi-final rivals of Tigers in 2002 and again in 2007, Scarlets reached the PRO14 Final in 2017/18 before losing to Leinster.

The Welsh side last met Tigers in Europe in the pool stages of 2014/15, while Tigers scored home-and-away wins at the same stage in 2010/11. 

In 2017/18, Scarlets made it into the knockout stages in Europe’s Champions Cup for the first time since 2007 and beat a powerful La Rochelle side in the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Leinster in Dublin in the last four.

Ulster Rugby

European champions in 1999 when captained by Mark McCall and David Humphreys, they booked the 20th and last qualifying place in next season’s Champions Cup with a play-off win over the Ospreys in Belfast in May.

They were regular rivals of Tigers with pool-stage meetings in 2011/12, 2013/14 and 2014/15, snatching a valuable win at Welford Road in January 2014 as both teams reached the quarter-finals. That was Ulster's fourth successive season in the knockout stages – including a run all the way to the Final in 2012 – but they have not got out of the pools since then.

As head coach Jono Gibbes moved on at the end of the 2017/18 season, he is replaced by Dan McFarland who  spent 15 years as player and then coach at Connacht as well as working as forwards coach with Scotland.

Will Addison, signed from Sale Sharks, is among the new faces, though long-serving trio Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne have retired.