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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Welsh given tough Heineken draw
Munster celebrate winning the 2005/6 Heineken Cup
Reigning champions Munster are in Cardiff's group
Wales' three representatives have been given hugely challenging draws in next season's Heineken Cup group stage.

Wales' seeded side, Cardiff Blues, are with Bourgoin, Leicester Tigers and reigning champions Munster in Pool 4.

Llanelli Scarlets meet French outfit Toulouse for the third year in a row, along with London Irish and Celtic League champions Ulster in Pool 5.

The Ospreys, perhaps Wales' strongest squad, face Stade Francais, Calvisano and English champions Sale in Pool 3.

Wales' other region, Newport Gwent Dragons will play in the Challenge Cup after losing a Heineken Cup play-off to Overmach Parma.

It was disappointing not to have a Welsh region in the knockout stages last season

Scarlets team manager Anthony Buchanan

Scarlets team manager Anthony Buchanan says his side must follow the example of Toulouse's 2006 conquerors Leinster when they face the French side.

"Leinster showed that Toulouse are beatable if you take the challenge to them, in the past we've gone in under-confident," said Buchanan.

"We were hoping to avoid Toulouse this year but the draw is fine - at least making the travel arrangements will be easy!

"We know all about Ulster, but London Irish will be a new challenge.

"It was disappointing not to have a Welsh region in the knockout stages last season, rectifying that will be [new coach] Phil Davies' priority.

Such is the strength of our group that we will have to finish top in order to get through

Ospreys coach Lyn Jones

"It's going to be all about winning the home games then trying to pinch a result away. We know we will have to be at peak form going into the first round."

The Ospreys believe that the Stade Francais fixtures will be the key to progressing in their group.

"We beat them at home last year and lost away poorly," said Ospreys coach Lyn Jones.

"They are a big, tough unit, but they are the team we have to target - if we want to do well in this tournament we have to go to France and win.

"Sale will also be a major challenge, they have one of the best back threes in British rugby, and an outstanding fly-half and number eight.

Blues coach Dai Young will be a bit concerned about Munster

Phil Bennett
"Looking at the make-up of the six pools, such is the strength of our group that we will have to finish top in order to get through.

"Last year we went into the tournament at the bottom of our game with a lot of injuries. Hopefully we will be in a better state this time and we will relish the test."

Wales and Lions legend Phil Bennett feels that reigning champions Munster could be too strong for the Cardiff Blues.

"You never know what Bourgoin side will turn up and they haven't always tried in Europe in the past," Bennett told BBC Sport Wales.

"Leicester might not be the great side of old with the likes of Austin Healey retiring and Graham Rowntree winding down.

"But [Blues coach] Dai Young will be a bit concerned about Munster, we saw what they could do last season and they will be just a huge challenge."


Pool One: Benetton Treviso, Perpignan, London Wasps, Castres

Pool Two: Edinburgh Gunners, Agen, Gloucester, Leinster

Pool Three: Sale Sharks, Stade Francais, Calvisano, Ospreys

Pool Four: Cardiff Blues, Bourgoin, Leicester, Munster

Pool Five: Ulster, Toulouse, London Irish, Llanelli Scarlets

Pool Six: Biarritz, Northampton, Overmach Parma, Border Reivers

SEE ALSO
Champions Munster face Leicester
21 Jun 06 |  European Club
Howley admits to Munster anguish
22 Jun 06 |  European Club
Sharks happy with Heineken draw
21 Jun 06 |  European Club
McCall disappointed with draw
21 Jun 06 |  European Club
Heineken Cup 2006/7
02 Mar 06 |  European Club
European rugby archive
09 Oct 02 |  European Club
BBC Wales Sport coverage
01 May 06 |  Wales
Transfer talk - Welsh regions
02 May 06 |  Welsh


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