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Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 11:56 UK

Welsh upbeat after Heineken draw

Heineken Cup

Wales' regions received favourable draws for the Heineken Cup 2008/9 pool stages, selected in Dublin on Tuesday.

Wales' top seeds, the Scarlets, are up against French giants Stade Francais, Ulster and Harlequins.

The Ospreys face Leicester, Perpignan and Treviso, with fellow 2007/8 quarter-finalists the Blues against Biarritz, Gloucester and Calvisano.

The Dragons have a challenging task against 2007/8 runners-up Toulouse, Bath and Glasgow.

Dragons prop Adam Black said he was ready for the challenge of facing three-time winners Toulouse.

"It's a pretty tough draw which reflects the intensity of the tournament in Europe," Black told the Dragons website.

"This is the kind of intensity that we relish here at the Dragons and I'm sure we can be more competitive in the coming season.

"I am looking forward to the experience, skill and energy that the new signings will bring to the squad."

Llanelli Scarlets team manager Garan Evans had mixed emotions about the task awaiting his side.

"It could have been better, but it could have been worse," he told the Scarlets website.

"We can look forward to going to Paris, we haven't played Stade Francais for some time so that will add something exciting and different.

"Harlequins will be in the same boat and we know all about Ulster.

"If you look at all the groups they are all pretty competitive so I think the new seeding system in place has worked pretty well.

"If you look at the history of the draw there have been some pretty poor groups, but that's not the case this time round."

Blues director of rugby Dai Young also felt that the seeding system had delivered a fair result.

"We did fear the worst being seeded third but I think this season's draw has given us a chance," he told the Blues website.

We have to be confident of improving on last year's showing and progressing past the quarter finals for the first time

Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones
"It is not the hardest group that we have had, but Biarritz is never an easy place to go and get a result, Gloucester is one of the biggest fortresses in English rugby and Calvisano is also a difficult place to go to.

"Overall I'm pleased with the draw. You have got to win your home game and try to get something on the road."

Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones said his side will look forward to a rematch with Leicester, who they beat in this year's EDF Energy Cup final.

"We've played them in each of the last three seasons," said the Wales star.

"Like us they will go into the competition with a new coach, so while their players will be up for it after we beat them at Twickenham, the matches will have a different complexion.

"Perpignan have gone all the way to the final before and reached the knock-out stages last season, so we know that we'll have to be on the top of our game if we are to win the group, but I think its definitely achievable.

"We got through to the quarter finals as best runners-up last season when I think it was there for us to win the group, so I can't see why we can't go one better this time around.

"If we do that, we have to be confident of improving on last year's showing and progressing past the quarter finals for the first time."

The draw was the first to use the new European Rugby Cup rankings system which split the clubs into four tiers based on performances in the competition over the last four seasons.

Teams from the same country were kept apart, but, with seven French clubs in the six pools, two of their sides - Clermont Auvergne, Montauban - are in Pool One.

Pool One: Munster, Sale, Clermont Auvergne, Montauban
Pool Two: Wasps, Leinster, Castres, Edinburgh
Pool Three: Leicester, Perpignan, Ospreys, Treviso
Pool Four: Stade Francais, Llanelli Scarlets, Ulster, Harlequins
Pool Five: Toulouse, Bath, Newport Gwent Dragons, Glasgow
Pool Six: Biarritz, Gloucester, Cardiff Blues, Calvisano

Round One: 10-12 October

Round Two: 17-19 October

Round Three: 5-7 December

Round Four: 12-14 December

Round Five: 16-18 January

Round Six: 23-25 January

Quarter-finals: 10-12 April

Semi-finals: 1-3 May

Final: 22-24 May (Murrayfield)

*Fixtures, dates and times are subject to late change

see also
Heineken Cup draw - full details
17 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Tough Euro draw for Scottish pair
17 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Ulster face Stade in Heineken Cup
17 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2008/9
02 May 08 |  Rugby Union
European rugby archive
16 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales

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