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Heineken Cup group-by-group guide

Leinster celebrate their 2009 final victory over Leicester at Murrayfield

Twenty weeks after Leinster lifted European club rugby's biggest prize at Murrayfield, the Heineken Cup returns this week for its 15th season.

The 14 previous tournaments have produced nine different winners, eight of whom - two-time champions Wasps are the exception - return for another crack.

While English clubs - Bath, Northampton and Leicester (twice) have also won it - can boast six titles, Irish provinces have prevailed in three of the last four years.

Defending champions Leinster and two-time winners Munster are again among the favourites, while three-time champions Toulouse lead a strong French contingent.

Their six representatives have an extra incentive with this season's final to be held at the Stade de France in Paris on 22 May.

On the two previous occasions the final was held in France, English clubs prevailed - Bath in Bordeaux in 1998, Leicester in Paris in 2001. An omen perhaps?

With each pool winner and the two best runners-up progressing to the quarter-finals in April, Bryn Palmer gives you the lowdown on each of the six groups.

see also
Heineken Cup 2009/10
22 Dec 09 |  Rugby Union
Paris to host Heineken Cup final
18 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 16-19 Leinster
23 May 09 |  Rugby Union


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