Director of rugby Jim Mallinder has described Northampton Saints’ European Rugby Champions Cup pool draw as challenging, but exciting.
The Saints were grouped with Clermont Auvergne, Saracens and the Ospreys by Ieuan Evans (Sky Sports) and Austin Healey (BT Sport) in Neuchatel earlier today (Thursday, June 8th).
It means that the Saints will be coming up against the 2017 Champions Cup finalists, along with one of the Pro 12’s top teams. Saracens beat Clermont Auvergne in Edinburgh to lift the Champions Cup, with the French outfit going on to win the Top 14 final last Sunday evening.
Meanwhile the Ospreys finished in the Pro 12’s play-off positions and reached the European Rugby Challenge Cup knockout stages.
The Saints have come up against all three teams in the Champions Cup in recent years, visiting Clermont in the 2015 quarter finals, Saracens at the same stage 12 months later, and the Ospreys in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 pool stages, with the Saints winning all four of these games.
“If you want to be in the Champions Cup you’ve got to be prepared to play tough teams and this is what we will have to do,” Mallinder says.
“It’s a challenging draw and we know that we’ll have to play at our very best if we are to progress from it. Saracens and Clermont were this year’s Champions Cup finalists and are two of the best teams in Europe, and the Ospreys have plenty of international players, too.
“But it is a draw that we can be excited about, because we want to test ourselves against the other top team, and we believe we’ve got a squad that can compete next season.”
All three home Champions Cup pool matches will be played at Franklin’s Gardens this season, and the only way to guarantee your place is with a 2017/18 Season Ticket. For prices and booking information head to www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/seasontickets