Leicester and Sale to face holders La Rochelle in Heineken Champions Cup pool

English challengers Leicester and Sale Sharks have landed a fearsome pool draw in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

The pair, who cannot play each other in the group stage, face games against Champions Cup holders La Rochelle, runners-up Leinster, South African heavyweights DHL Stormers and Parisians Stade Francais.

They will play two matches at home and two away in December and January. The top four teams in each group will comprise the round of 16 later next term.

Premiership champions Saracens and Bristol, who replaced London Irish after the Exiles went into administration, will tackle Bordeaux-Begles, Vodacom Bulls, Lyon and Connacht in Pool 1.

Bath, Champions Cup qualifiers following a dramatic last day of the Premiership season, are in Pool 2 alongside Harlequins.

They will take on newly-crowned French champions Toulouse, Racing 92, Ulster and the solitary Welsh representative Cardiff.

Past tournament winners Exeter and Northampton are in Pool 3, where they will face fixtures against United Rugby Championship title holders Munster, Glasgow, Bayonne and Toulon.

Premiership challengers Gloucester have been handed a tough European Challenge Cup draw, being grouped in Pool 3 alongside Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets, Edinburgh, Castres and a yet-to-be-announced invited club.

Newcastle are in Pool 2 with Ospreys, Benetton, Montpellier, Perpignan and Emirates Lions, while Pool 1 comprises another invited club alongside Dragons, Pau, Oyonnax, Zebre Parma and Cell Sharks.

The top four in each group progress to the Challenge Cup round of 16, where they will be joined by the four fifth-placed Champions Cup teams.

The Challenge Cup and Champions Cup finals take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 24 and 25.

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