Ulster's Heineken draw 'could be worse'
Ulster Rugby have been drawn in Pool 4 for the 2012/13 Heineken Cup group stages - alongside Northampton, Glasgow and Castres.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Ulster have progressed to the knock-out stages for the last two years in a row, reaching the quarter-finals before losing to Northampton in 2011 and getting beaten by Leinster in this year's final.
"On the whole we are happy with the draw - it could have been better and it could have been worse," the side's director of rugby, David Humphreys, said.
"There are two very difficult pools and there are a couple of pools which are probably a little bit easier. All four teams will probably look at the pool and think they have a realistic chance of progressing."
Losing the final last month has made everyone at the club more determined to succeed, both in Europe and in the PRO12.
The holders Leinster are in Pool 5 along with Clermont, Scarlets and debutants Exeter.
Munster occupy Pool 1 with Edinburgh, Saracens and Racing Metro, while Connacht join French outift Birattiz, English champions Harlequins and Italian side Zebre in Pool 3.
Zebre have replaced Aironi Rugby in the RaboDirect PRO12.
English runners-up Leicester are in one of the toughest groups, Pool 2, with Toulouse, the Ospreys and Treviso.
The first round matches will be played over the second weekend in October and the final will be played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 18 May, 2013.
Mark Anscombe takes over as Ulster head coach for the 2012/13 campaign and Humphreys plans to sit down with the New Zealander to plan for the season ahead.
"One of our goals will be to get out of our pool again. If we want continue to take steps forward, then that must be a minimum requirement," he said.
"Last season our form in the PRO12 was not as good as we hoped, so that is something we will have to address as well."
Heineken Cup 2012/13 Pool Draw
Pool One: Munster, Edinburgh, Saracens, Racing Metro 92
Pool Two: Toulouse, Leicester, Ospreys, Benetton Treviso
Pool Three: Biarritz, Harlequins, Connacht, Zebre
Pool Four: Northampton Saints, Ulster, Glasgow Warriors, Castres Olympique
Pool Five: Leinster, Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets, Exeter Chiefs
Pool Six: Cardiff Blues, Toulon, Sale, Montpellier
Round One: 12/13/14 October
Round Two: 19/20/21 October
Round Three: 7/8/9 December
Round Four: 14/15/16 December
Round Five: 11/12/13 January
Round Six: 18/19/20 January