Leinster face tough start to Champions Cup title defence

Leinster's Tadhg Furlong with the Champions Cup

Leinster's Tadhg Furlong with the Champions Cup

Premiership rivals Exeter and Gloucester have been drawn together in pool two, and they are also joined by Munster and reigning French champions Castres. Castres emerged winless from two pool games against the Munstermen last season - going down 48-3 at Thomond Park in January - but were crowned Top 14 champions just under three weeks ago.

Three-time Champions Cup finalists Clermont of France and English side Northampton, the 2000 European champions, will provide stiff competition for Dragons, while Romanians Timisoara provide less familiar opposition.

Another French club, Bordeaux and Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks complete the draw for the Irish Province.

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"They will all be tough games".

In last season's Champions Cup, the north Londoners were beaten 30-19 in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Leinster. Can they add to their development in 2018/19 Challenge Cup fixtures?

"Toulouse, Dublin and Bath are also all really nice places for our supporters to go, so I'm sure they'll enjoy the draw".

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Ulster were 27-20 winners over the Scarlets in Belfast in the early weeks of the 2017/18 campaign but have not won at Parc y Scarlets since December 2012.

Powerful French club Racing are fresh opponents for the Ulstermen, with Ireland internationals Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo standing out on their squad list. You can view the full draw for both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup at the head of this article.

The final will be played in Newcastle on May 11.

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The Falcons are back in European rugby's top competition after a 14-year absence, with their last appearance ending in a 2004 quarterfinal defeat to Stade Francais.

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