2015/16 Pool Draws – PRO12 clubs’ reaction Gregor Townsend, Anthony Foley, Jamie Heaslip, Andrew Hore, Danny Wilson, Pat Lam, Jason Tovey

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2015/16 Pool Draws – PRO12 clubs’ reaction

Following today’s Pool Draws for the 2015/16 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, see below for reaction from selected Guinness PRO12 club representatives.

Gregor Townsend – Glasgow Warriors Head Coach
“We were seeded in the top tier last year and so we knew what to expect – another very tough draw. We are up against some of the biggest teams in Europe with some of the biggest budgets.

“It was fantastic winning the PRO12 title last season, but now the challenge is to move on from there. The first target has got to be to reach the quarter-finals in Europe for the first time.

“Realistically, only one team is likely to get out of our pool and so we are going to have to go all out to win it. We know the Scarlets very well, and they will have a few of our old players in their ranks in John Barclay and DTH van der Merwe, and we had a great win over Northampton Saints a few seasons ago.

“Racing 92 have just spent millions strengthening their squad and I know our fans are going to enjoy coming to watch the likes of Dan Carter, Chris Masoe and Martin Castrogiovanni.”

Anthony Foley – Munster Rugby Head Coach
“Once again six huge games lie ahead of us. Getting through the pool stage is always a massive challenge and it’s up to us to put in the performances that I know we are capable of. There’s quality right across our pool again next season.

“We now have to prepare for the reigning Top 14 champions, Stade Francais, who we haven’t met since 2004. Clermont taught us a lesson on just how formidable the Top 14 sides are in Europe both home and away last season.

“Leicester Tigers are a team that we know well and with who we’ve shared some big occasions. They’ll travel to us knowing that the last time they played here they became the first visiting team to beat us at Thomond Park in European competition. It’s up to us to rise to the occasion both home and away.

“Last season, Thomond Park wasn’t quite the fortress our fans had become accustomed to, so that will serve as a good motivation for us to put that right. Not getting out of our pool was tough to take and we don’t want to be in that position again. Getting home wins is essential because every team tends to raise their game when it comes to Europe.”

Jamie Heaslip – Leinster Rugby captain
“I was glued to the laptop this afternoon. As much as you look forward to the off-season, it isn’t long before you start looking towards critical dates and I suppose from a Leinster point of view that first date was today and the draw for the Champions Cup.

“We are due back for pre-season two weeks today and the thoughts of Toulon, Bath and Wasps will focus the minds on the work ahead for all of the lads and the schedule that the coaches have set out for us.

“There will obviously be hype around Paulie and his return to these shores to take on an Irish club but leaving him (Paul O’Connell) aside, Toulon are a formidable outfit and have recruited really well once again.”

Andrew Hore – Ospreys Managing Director
“I’m delighted with the draw and I think it is going to appeal greatly to our fans. Having two French teams in the pool will be testing, but exciting.

“We were very pleased with the way our young team shaped up last season and another season on they will be even better prepared for these challenges. It will be nice to meet Exeter Chiefs, who are a team who share the same values as ours.”

Danny Wilson – Cardiff Blues Head Coach
“It was really exciting to be involved in a Challenge Cup draw. Our pool has a definite feel of the Champions Cup about it. Montpellier are undoubtedly the top seeds in the entire tournament given their recruitment drive this summer.

“I’m hopeful we can attract big crowds to the Cardiff Arms Park and I’m sure the fans will look forward to welcoming back Adam Jones and Jamie Roberts to Cardiff.”

Pat Lam – Connacht Rugby Head Coach
“The Challenge Cup is massive now because next season, the winner automatically gets into the Champions Cup. What’s important is to not only get through the pool, but to be seeded as high as possible, so you get a home quarter and semi-final.

“We’re happy with the pool and, for me personally, it’s a return to Newcastle Falcons, which I’m excited about. They were the first team I played for when I moved to Europe in the late 90s. In France it’s Brive, a past European Cup winner which will be good for us. And finally to Enisei-STM, which is going to be an exciting trip to Russia.”

Jason Tovey – Newport Gwent Dragons outside-half
“Our pool really shows how competitive this season’s Challenge Cup is. Hopefully, Pau bring new signings Conrad Smith and Colin Slade over. To have people like that at Rodney Parade would be great for our fans.

“Castres Olympique were Top 14 champions a few seasons ago and they will be looking to get into the Champions Cup via this competition. Kingsley Jones (Dragons Head Coach) will be relishing a return to Sale Sharks, the last time we played them – we beat them with Kingsley as coach!”

2015/16 Champions Cup pools

Pool 1: Saracens, Ulster Rugby, Toulouse, Oyonnax
Pool 2: ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys, Exeter Chiefs, Bordeaux-Begles
Pool 3: Glasgow Warriors, Northampton Saints, Racing 92, Scarlets
Pool 4: Stade Francais Paris, Munster Rugby, Leicester Tigers, Benetton Treviso
Pool 5: Bath Rugby, RC Toulon, Leinster Rugby, Wasps

2015/16 Challenge Cup pools

Pool 1: Connacht Rugby, Brive, Newcastle Falcons, Enisei-STM
Pool 2: Sale Sharks, Newport Gwent Dragons, Castres Olympique, Pau
Pool 3: Montpellier, Harlequins, Cardiff Blues, Cammi Rugby Calvisano
Pool 4: La Rochelle, Gloucester Rugby, Zebre Rugby, Worcester Warriors
Pool 5: Edinburgh Rugby, London Irish, Grenoble, Agen

2015/16 Tournament weekends

Round 1: 12/13/14/15 November
Round 2: 19/20/21/22 November
Round 3: 10/11/12/13 December
Round 4: 17/18/19/20 December
Round 5: 14/15/16/17 January 2016
Round 6: 21/22/23/24 January 2016
Quarter-finals: 7/8/9/10 April 2016
Semi-finals: 22/23/24 April 2016
Finals: 13/14 May 2016

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