Heineken Champions Cup: Ulster drawn against Scarlets, Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers in pool stages.

Ulster beat Leicester in the final round of pool games in the 2014/15 Champions Cup to end the Tigers' quarter-final hopes
Ulster beat Leicester in the final round of pool games in the 2014/15 Champions Cup to end the Tigers' quarter-final hopes

Ulster will face Scarlets, Racing 92 and Leicester in Pool Four of the 2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup.

Leinster must overcome a tough pool draw if they are to defend their title.

The holders have been pitted against former winners Wasps, Toulouse and Bath following today's draw in Lausanne.

Munster are the other Irish province in the next season's tournament and they will face French Top14 champions Castres and Premiership sides Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester in Pool Three.

Ulster were among the fourth seeds for the draw in Switzerland after they beat Ospreys in a Pro14 play-off in May to secure European qualification and they were the last club to be allocated a group.

Scarlets are the top-seeded side with last season's beaten finalists Racing 92 also representing an imposing challenge.

The French side now have two former Irish internationals in their squad - Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan.

Two-time winners Leicester qualified for the tournament after finishing fifth in the Premiership table.

Scarlets, Leicester and Ulster were previously drawn in the same group in the 2014/15 Champions Cup when Toulon topped the pool on their way to their third consecutive European title.

Champions Cup pool draw
2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup pool draw

Ulster have not progressed beyond the pool stages of Europe's premier club tournament since 2014 but former fly-half Ian Humphreys believes they should be relatively pleased with the draw.

"Pool Four is going to be difficult but I think Ulster can be happy enough knowing that the teams they are playing with, they definitely have potential to beat," said Humphreys, who also spent three seasons with Leicester.

"There are some horrible pools there, obviously Pool One with Leinster is going to be a tough one, but I think Ulster needed a pool which would give them some confidence with all the changes that were going on and I certainly think this was one of them."

The inclusion of both Racing and Scarlets, who lost to their European semi-final against Leinster in April, mean that Ulster will have to play two of the top-four teams in last season's tournament.

Scarlets and Ulster finished honours even in their head-to-head record in the inaugural Pro14 with both teams winning at home.

"Although those teams [Scarlets and Racing] did so well, for me they don't hold the same kind of fear factor that other teams might," added Humphreys.

"Ulster obviously are well used to playing Scarlets and what you have to remember is that very rarely does a full-strength Ulster team actually play during the year so their games against Scarlets are hard to compare over the last couple of years.

"I think a fully firing Ulster team with their new signings and new coaching staff could certainly give Scarlets a go at home and, like any French team, Racing potentially don't travel that well.

"So Ulster will be looking to pick up their three home wins and you just never know what happens away and I think if anybody can pick up one away win will possibly be the team that goes through."

Connacht face Jackson's Perpignan

Connacht have been given a tough draw in the Challenge Cup after they were placed in Pool Three alongside Sale Sharks and French sides Bordeaux Begles and Perpignan, who recently signed former Ulster and Ireland playmaker Paddy Jackson.

The fly-half will now face an early return to Ireland after his IRFU contract was revoked at the conclusion of a nine-week rape trial in April when he was found not guilty.

"I'm just pleased for Paddy that he's getting an opportunity to go and play rugby," said Humphreys.

"He won't really be caring who he's playing against or what's going on, I'm sure he's just keen to get back on the pitch and do what he does best.

"It will be nice for him to get the opportunity to come across here and I'm sure he'll feel he'll have some points to prove to certain people but there's absolutely no question of what kind of rugby player Paddy is and I'm sure he'll just be excited to be back on the pitch playing where ever he can."

St James' Park in Newcastle will host next season's finals weekend on 10-11 May.

Heineken Champions Cup 2018-19 draw

Pool One: Leinster, Wasps, Toulouse, Bath

Pool Two: Castres, Exeter Chiefs, Munster, Gloucester

Pool Three: Saracens, Glasgow Warriors, Lyon, Cardiff Blues

Pool Four: Scarlets, Racing 92, Leicester Tigers, Ulster

Pool Five: Montpellier, Newcastle Falcons, Edinburgh, Toulon

Challenge Cup 2018-19 draw

Pool 1: Northampton, Clermont Auvergne, Dragons, Timisoara Saracens

Pool 2: Pau, Ospreys, Worcester, Stade Francais

Pool 3: Sale Sharks, Connacht, Bordeaux-Begles, Perpignan

Pool 4: La Rochelle, Zebre, Bristol, Enisei-STM

Pool 5: Benetton, Harlequins, Agen, Grenoble