London Irish has been drawn against DHL Stormers and Montpellier Hérault in Pool B of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup.
In their first venture in Europe’s top-tier knockout competition in over a decade, the Exiles will play four fixtures, two at home and two away, against each of their two pool stage opponents across December 2022 and January 2023.
With two pools of 12 sides each, Irish will vie for the top eight spots in Pool B in order to progress to the Round of 16 stage of the Heineken Champions Cup, with the final being hosted at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on 20thMay 2023.
In a landmark decision, EPCR have welcomed four United Rugby Championship sides based in South Africa, plus Toyota Free State Cheetahs, into their competitions.
Stormers, Bulls and Cell C Sharks will premier in the Heineken Champions Cup, with Lions and Cheetahs making their first European berth in the Challenge Cup.
In what will be the first encounter between the sides, Irish will prepare to take on United Rugby Championship winners DHL Stormers in this year’s Heineken Champions Cup venture.
Stormers beat fellow South African outfit Bulls to triumph in their maiden season in the recently formed United Rugby Championship against Italo-Celtic opposition.
Led by Head Coach John Dobson, the Cape Town side defeated both Edinburgh Rugby and Ulster Rugby in the Final Eight and Final Four matchups, beating Bulls 18-13 in the Grand Final.
Before their South African Shield and United Rugby Championship wins this year, Stormers had never previously won a Super 14/ Super Rugby honour, reaching the final in 2010 but losing out to Bulls.
Irish’s last meeting with Montpellier Hérault dates back to the pre-season of the 2014/15 campaign, when the Exiles shocked the Top 14 outfit with a four-try, 26-21 win in Grenoble.
After being runners up in 2011 and as recent as 2018, Montpellier won their first Top 14 title last year when overcoming fellow Tier 1 seed Castres Olympique in the final by a scoreline of 29-10.
Whilst having never won the Heineken Champions Cup, Les Cistes have attained two Challenge Cup honours when beating English opposition in the respective finals; Harlequins in 2016 and Leicester Tigers in 2021.
EPCR will begin to prepare the fixture schedule, with an announcement of exact dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage to follow as soon as practicable.
Round 1 – 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2 – 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4 – 20/21/22 January 2023
Round of 16 – 31 March/ 1/2 April 2023
Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023
Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April 2023
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Become part of history and secure your place to see the first ever Heineken Champions Cup fixture held at the Brentford Community Stadium with a 2022/23 Season Ticket, which can be purchased here.