Champions Exeter drawn with Toulouse in rugby's European Cup

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Rugby ball (Getty Images)
Rugby ball (Getty Images)

European champions Exeter face a tough opening defence of their title after being drawn on Wednesday to face French giants Toulouse as well as Glasgow in the group stages of the 2020/21 European Champions Cup.

Exeter, who beat Racing 92 31-27 in a thrilling final earlier this month, went on to complete a remarkable double with a 19-13 victory over Wasps in Saturday's English Premiership final.

Because of Covid-19, the format has been changed for the coming edition with the 24 teams split into two groups of 12, each team playing two opponents home and away.

The top four from each group qualify for the quarter-finals with eight teams going into the last 16 of the lesser Challenge Cup.

Four-time champions Toulouse face Exeter and 1999 champions Ulster.

Another ambitious English side Bristol, who beat Toulon to win the Challenge Cup this month, are also in Pool B but face the twin challenge of French side Clermont and Irish province Connacht.

Two-time champions Munster, also in Pool B, will meet Clermont and Harlequins.

Four-time champions Leinster are in Pool A and will face stiff opposition from Montpellier and Northampton, the side they beat in 2011 to secure the second of their titles.

The pool stage runs from mid-December to the end of January. The final will take place on Saturday May 22 in Marseille.

Draw for European Champions Cup 2020-2021

Pool A

- Bordeaux-Begles (FRA) play Dragons, Northampton

- Leinster (IRL) play Montpellier (FRA), Northampton (ENG)

- Wasps (ENG) play Dragons, Montpellier

- Bath (ENG) play La Rochelle, Scarlets

- Edinburgh (SCO) play La Rochelle, Sale

- Toulon (FRA) play Sale, Scarlets

- La Rochelle (FRA) play Bath, Edinburgh

- Sale (ENG) play Edinburgh, Toulon

- Scarlets (WAL) play Bath, Toulon

- Dragons (WAL) play Bordeaux-Begles, Wasps

- Montpellier (FRA) play Leinster, Wasps

- Northampton (ENG) play Bordeaux-Begles, Leinster

POOL B

- Exeter (ENG) play Glasgow, Toulouse

- Lyon (FRA) play Glasgow, Gloucester

- Ulster (IRL) play Gloucester, Toulouse)

- Bristol (ENG) play Clermont, Connacht

- Munster (IRL) play Clermont, Harlequins

- Racing 92 (FRA) play Connacht, Harlequins

- Clermont (FRA) play Bristol, Munster

- Connacht (IRL) play Bristol, Racing 92

- Harlequins (ENG) play Racing 92, Munster

- Glasgow (SCO) play Exeter, Lyon

- Gloucester (ENG) play Lyon, Ulster

- Toulouse (FRA) play Exeter, Ulster

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