Cardiff Blues have been drawn in Pool 3 for the First Round of the Heineken Cup 2007/8 alongside French seeds Stade Francais Paris and two Guinness Premiership clubs Bristol and Harlequins.
The draw was held at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which was confirmed as the venue to host next season's final on the weekend 24-25 May. It will be the fifth tournament final staged in the Welsh capital.
Speaking after the draw Cardiff Blues Director of Coaching, David Young said,
We have to be honest and say that there are tougher groups.
I think the Scarlets have picked up the toughest group, but in saying that there are no poor teams and no easy games in the competition. Its going to be tough but we have got a realistic chance and we should be looking forward to it and looking forward to the challenge.
I think its great for the occasion to have local rivals Bristol and having two English teams should bring a lot of support down to Cardiff and should add to the atmosphere and the occasion. The English sides are two teams that havent been in the competition for a while so they will bring some excitement to the tournament.
Stade Francais are always there or there abouts in the Heineken Cup so that should be a tough match. I think theyll be favourites going in to the group, but its up to us to step up and turn that round. The Ospreys showed last year that they can be pushed.
The Blues played this years finalists Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium last season and attracted a record crowd of over 26,000 and will consider playing another Heineken Cup match there in the 2007/08 season.
Robert Norster the Cardiff Blues Chief Executive was also pleased with the draw,
Its a good draw for us in so much the cream of French rugby will be coming along in the form of Stade Francais and there are also some mouth watering Anglo-Welsh clashes. Bristol have surprised many in the Guinness Premiership and Im sure they will do the same in the Heineken Cup. They have strength in depth as do Harlequins. Harlequins are a big city club and well supported similar to the Cardiff Blues.
We will consider the option of playing one of our matches in the Millennium Stadium. As has happened in previous years, if theres a window to use the national stadium to attract a big crowds such as playing an English team thats something we will look at. However, we need to look at the schedule, the Millennium stadium holds many events and we also have to make sure the fixtures work for us, our team and supporters, said Robert Norster.
The matches will be played on the following weekends.
Game 1 November 10
Game 2 November 17
Game 3 December 8
Game 4 December 15
Game 5 January 5
Game 6 January 15
HEINEKEN CUP POOLS 2007 / 2008
POOL 1: Benetton Treviso; London Irish; Perpignan; Newport Gwent Dragons
POOL 2: Ospreys; Gloucester Rugby; Bourgoin; Ulster Rugby
POOL 3: Stade Francais Paris; Bristol Rugby; Cardiff Blues; Harlequins
POOL 4: Glasgow Warriors; Saracens; Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque; Viadana
POOL 5: London Wasps; ASM Clermont Auvergne; Llanelli Scarlets; Munster
POOL 6: Leinster; Leicester Tigers; Toulouse; Edinburgh Rugby