The draw for the pool stage of the 2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup was made in Lausanne, Switzerland on Wednesday, with Cardiff Blues returning to European Rugby’s premier competition after four seasons away.
As tier four seeds, and with top sides throughout the qualified teams, there were no easy draws to be had, and so it proved with John Mulvihill’s men being drawn alongside English champions Saracens, Pro14 heavyweights Glasgow and last season’s Challenge Cup pool opponents Lyon.
Having said that, it is no doubt pleasing to avoid the danger of the top Irish sides and the real big spending French sides, in a pool that Cardiff Blues will feel we can be competitive in.
Recent games against Lyon, when we defeated them home and away on the way to winning the European Challenge Cup last season, and Glasgow, who we did the double over in 2013/14, the last time we were in the Heineken Cup, will still be fresh in the memory.
However, you have to cast your mind back to the 2000/01 Heineken Cup pool stage for the last time we took on Saracens in European action, with Cardiff coming out 32-23 winners at Vicarage Road, and 24-14 winners at the Arms Park.
Another good omen for Cardiff Blues will be the fact that we are currently on a winning streak of nine straight European games at our historic home, dating back to November 2015, and will no doubt take confidence from being Challenge Cup champions.
Round dates for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup are as follows;
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
Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March
Semi-finals: 19/20/21 April
Final: Saturday 11th May at St James Park, Newcastle
Confirmed fixture details will follow in due course…