The teams from each Tier level will then be kept apart in the draw for the Pools. Munster therefore for example cannot meet Leicester Tigers, Toulouse, Bath, Biarritz Olympique or their semi-final conquerors, the title holders Leinster, until at least the knock-out stages.
Tier 1: Munster, Leicester Tigers, Leinster, Toulouse, Bath Rugby, Biarritz Olympique.
Tier 2: Cardiff Blues, Stade FranÃ§ais, Gloucester Rugby, Perpignan, Ospreys, London Irish.
Tier 3: Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets, Ulster Rugby, Newport Gwent Dragons
Tier 4: NEC Harlequins, Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh, Benetton Treviso, Brive, Viadana.
According to guidelines set down this season by ERC, no two teams from the same country will be drawn in the same Pool except for the seventh club from England (Harlequins based on European Ranking) which will be drawn into a Pool with another English team. Last season it will be recalled Munster were drawn in a Pool that included two French sides, ASM Clermont Auvergne and Montauban.
â0¢ The draw will have four stages starting with the allocation of six teams from Tier 1 and then moving to the next Tier.
â0¢ Allocation of Tier 1 - The Number 1 ranked team (Leinster Heineken Cup champions) will be drawn into one of the six Pools. The remaining five top Tier teams will then be drawn into the five Pool spots left available.
â0¢ For the Allocation of Tier 2, 3 and 4, the teams will be drawn starting with the teams from the country with the highest number of teams participating in the tournament England. Therefore the order of allocation in each Tier will be teams from England, France, Wales,
Ireland, Scotland and Italy until all teams in the Tier have been drawn. (As Scotland and Italy both have two teams competing, the Scottish teams will be drawn first as they are ranked higher than either Italian side).