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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
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Ruaidhri O'Connor Twitter

Champions Cup draw: Munster going to South Africa twice in fortnight as Leinster/Ulster tie set for Aviva

Jack Crowley of Munster after the Heineken Champions Cup Pool B Round 4 match at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Munster are facing some travel headaches after being drawn away to the Sharks in Durban, South Africa in Heineken Champions Cup round of 16.

Graham Rowntree’s men produced a stirring performance in their 20-16 defeat to Toulouse this afternoon, a result that confirmed their sixth place finish in Pool B. Their reward is a long-haul flight to South Africa to face the star-studded Sharks, who lost to Harlequins yesterday.

Munster were on course to face Edinburgh away up until Ben Earl’s try for Saracens changed the picture entirely.

Munster are already due in South Africa for a pair of United Rugby Championship games against the Stormers and the Sharks at the end of April, meaning they have two trips to the Rainbow Nation in a couple of weeks.

If they can win, the Irish side face a return to Toulouse or a home fixture against the Bulls a week later.

"It's a challenge, we like a challenge at this club at the moment," Rowntree said.

"If you're going to win this competition, you've got to go places and win games like this.

"What we are proving is that we're got form on the road, so I'm already looking forward to it.

"We'll make it work.

"We've Glasgow on the 25th (of March), we'd probably look to get to Durban on the Tuesday or Wednesday. In and out, smash and grab.

"We're going to be seeing a lot of them.

"To me, that's what makes a class team - what you do on the road, winning away from home. We've had a couple of good moments there recently. Edinburgh, Ulster, today would have been a nice feather in the cap but wherever we go, we'll be well prepped."

Leinster, meanwhile, are expected to move their clash with Ulster to the Aviva Stadium.

The fixture is a repeat of the 2019 quarter-final and the 2012 final and the winner will take on the victors of Leicester v Edinburgh.

The highest seeded team gets home advantage, so if Leinster win they’ll be in Dublin through the knockouts while Ulster would have to go on the road.

Leo Cullen’s men secured top seeding with their 36-10 victory over Racing 92 on Saturday, but the coach is not getting carried away by the prospect of having home advantage.

“We'll see. We have lost play-offs games in Dublin as well that I remember too well,” he said.

Elsewhere, Ronan O’Gara’s champions La Rochelle’s reward for topping Pool B is a home tie against Gloucester. The winner faces Saracens or Ospreys, while the winner of Exeter v Montpellier faces the victors from the Stormers’ clash with Harlequins.

Connacht, meanwhile, will go to Treviso to face Benetton in the Round of 16 of the Challenge Cup. Win and they’ll face Cardiff away or Sale Sharks in Galway.

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP DRAW

Round of 16 – 31 March-1/2 April

R16 1: Leinster Rugby v Ulster Rugby

R16 2: Exeter Chiefs v Montpellier Hérault Rugby

R16 3: Cell C Sharks v Munster Rugby

R16 4: Saracens v Ospreys

R16 5: Leicester Tigers v Edinburgh Rugby

R16 6: DHL Stormers v Harlequins

R16 7: Stade Toulousain v Vodacom Bulls

R16 8: Stade Rochelais v Gloucester Rugby

NB: The four highest-ranked clubs in each pool have home advantage

Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April

QF 1: Winner R16 1 v Winner R16 5

QF 2: Winner R16 7 v Winner R16 3

QF 3: Winner R16 2 v Winner R16 6

QF 4: Winner R16 8 v Winner R16 4

NB: The highest-ranked clubs from the pool stage will have home advantage

EPCR CHALLENGE CUP

Round of 16 – 31 March-1/2 April

R16 1: RC Toulon v Toyota Cheetahs

R16 2: Glasgow Warriors v Dragons RFC

R16 3: Cardiff Rugby v Sale Sharks

R16 4: Bristol Bears v ASM Clermont Auvergne

R16 5: Stade Francais Paris v Lyon

R16 6: Emirates Lions v Racing 92

R16 7: Benetton Rugby v Connacht Rugby

R16 8: Scarlets v CA Brive

NB The four highest-ranked clubs from each of the EPCR Challenge Cup pools have home advantage.

Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April

QF 1: Winner R16 1 v Winner R16 5

QF 2: Winner R16 7 v Winner R16 3

QF 3: Winner R16 2 v Winner R16 6

QF 4: Winner R16 8 v Winner R16 4

NB: The highest-ranked clubs from the pool stage will have home advantage.

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