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The Breakdown | Champions Cup Opponents

22nd June 2018 By The Editor

Ian Keatley on the charge against Castres Olympique last season.

Munster have been drawn in Pool 2 of the 2018/19 Champions Cup with French champions Castres Olympique and English heavyweights Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester.

Munster have been drawn in Pool 2 of the 2018/19 Champions Cup with French champions Castres Olympique and English heavyweights Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester.

While Castres and Gloucester are familiar opponents, it will be the first time Munster and Exeter face off in a competitive game with the Devon club visiting Irish Independent Park for a pre-season game on Friday, August 24 (7.30pm).

Check out Head Coach Johann van Graan’s reaction to the draw here.

Castres Olympique

The most played game in Champions Cup history, Munster and Castres Olympique have faced off on 14 occasions in previous seasons with Munster winning 10, losing three and drawing once.

Founded in 1898, Castres Olympique are based in the Occitanian city of Castres and are the current French champions.

They play at the 12,500 capacity Stade Pierre-Fabre and were the first side to defeat Munster in Europe, recording a 19-12 win in 1995.

Munster and Castres were drawn in the same pool for back-to-back seasons in 2000/01 and 2001/02, meeting no less than three times in the latter as Munster recorded a famous semi-final win at the Stade de la Méditerranée in April 2002.

The sides would share pools for consecutive seasons again in 2004/05 and 2005/06 and were drawn together again in 2011/12 and last season.

Former Munster player and current Coach Development Officer Ken O’Connell is a former Castres player.

John Kelly scores a try against Castres in 2005.

Exeter Chiefs

New opponents for Munster, the Exeter Chiefs have been one of the England’s top sides for the last number of years.

Premiership finalists in the last three seasons and winners in 2016/17, Exeter visit Cork for a pre-season game on Friday, August 24 (7.30pm).

Based in Devon and founded in 1871, the Chiefs have played their home games at the 12,800 capacity Sandy Park since 2006.

Promoted to the Premiership for the first time in 2010, Exeter made their first appearance in the Champions Cup in the 2012/13 campaign.

Exeter secured their first piece of major silverware in 2014 when winning the LV= Cup and continued their progression by securing the Premiership title in 2017.

Shannon Head Coach Tom Hayes spent a hugely successful six-year spell at Exeter and is a former captain of the club.

Gloucester

Munster have faced Gloucester seven times in the Champions Cup with Munster winning five and losing two – the sides were last paired together in January 2014.

The clubs first met in the Pool stages of the 2002/03 season with the famous Miracle Match at Thomond Park seeing Munster claim a 33-6 victory to qualify for the knockout stages.

The sides met again in January 2004 with the home side on the day winning both games.

Munster defeated Gloucester in the quarter-final of April 2008 and both games when the sides met in the 2013/14 season.

The club was formed in 1873 and since 1891 has played its home matches at Kingsholm Stadium, on the fringes of the city centre.

The West Country club finished seventh in the Premiership table last year and also reached the Challenge Cup final, falling to a 31-30 loss to Cardiff.

Gloucester will feature a familiar face next season having signed South African lock Gerbrandt Grobler from the province earlier this summer.

Ian Dowling goes over for a try in the 2008 Heineken Cup quarter-final against Gloucester.

EPCR key dates – 2018/19 season

Round 1: 12/13/14 October

Round 2: 19/20/21 October

Round 3: 7/8/9 December

Round 4: 14/15/16 December

Round 5: 11/12/13 January 2019

Round 6: 18/19/20 January 2019

Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March 2019

Semi-finals: 19/20/21 April 2019

Heineken Champions Cup final: Saturday 11 May, St James’ Park

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