Heineken Cup: Exeter drawn to face champions Leinster

Debutants Exeter will take on defending champions and three-time winners Leinster in the 2012-13 Heineken Cup.

The Chiefs, who qualified by finishing fifth in the Premiership, also face French side Clermont Auvergne and Scarlets of Wales in Pool Five.

Premiership winners Harlequins face Irish outfit Connacht as well as Italian newcomers Zebre and the French team Biarritz in Pool Three.

The final will be played at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on 18 May 2013.

Harlequins were knocked out of last season's competition after a 9-8 pool stage defeat by Connacht in Galway.

Heineken Cup 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, Ulster, Glasgow Warriors, Castres
  • Pool Five: Leinster, Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets, Exeter
  • Pool Six: Cardiff Blues, Toulon, Sale, Montpellier

Two-time winners Leicester, who were beaten by Harlequins in last month's Premiership final, face French champions Toulouse, who have won the Heineken Cup four times, Welsh side Ospreys and Italian tean Benetton Treviso in Pool Two.

Last season's semi-finalists Edinburgh take on Munster, who have won the Cup twice before, Saracens and Racing Metro 92 in Pool One.

Ulster, who were beaten 42-14 by Leinster in last season's final, face Northampton, Glasgow and Castres of France in Pool Four.

Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon take on fellow French side Montpellier, Cardiff and Sale in Group Six.

On Monday, the governing body of England's top rugby union clubs gave notice of its intention to pull out of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup amid disagreements over how the competitions are organised.

French clubs have also threatened to withdraw, but as two years' notice has to be given the move is perceived as an attempt to force others to negotiate.