Top 14 - Toulon handed kind draw for European defence

Heineken Cup champions Toulon avoided the continent's big guns when they were paired with Cardiff Blues, Glasgow and Exeter in the pool stage for next season's competition after Wednesday's draw in Dublin.

Reuters
Top 14 - Toulon handed kind draw for European defence
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Toulon's Matt Giteau celebrates winning the Heineken Cup at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (Reuters)

The French side, who will line up in Pool 2, were crowned champions of Europe for the first time last month after they upset Clermont Auvergne 16-15 in an all-French final in Dublin.

Big-spending Toulon missed out on a European Cup and French title double when they lost 19-14 to Castres in the Top 14 final on Saturday.

Clermont are in Pool 4 along with Top 14 rivals Racing Metro, Harlequins and Scarlets.

The toughest group is undoubtedly Pool 1 where Castres, Leinster, the Heineken Cup winners in three of the last five seasons, Ospreys and Northampton will do battle.

Four-times winners Toulouse, who last lifted the trophy in 2010, face Saracens, Connacht and Zebre in Pool 3 while twice winners Munster are with Perpignan, Edinburgh and Gloucester in Pool 6.

English champions Leicester are in Pool 5 and will face Ulster, Montpellier and Benetton Treviso.

The six pool winners and the two best placed runners-up will qualify for the quarter-finals.

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