Today’s Heineken Champions Cup draw has seen the Ospreys pooled with three teams of the highest European pedigree, who have six titles and 10 appearances in the final between them.
Top seeds in Pool 4 are the three times winners, and reigning champions, Saracens, who have featured in four of the last six finals. Next out of the hat was Munster, our old Guinness PRO14 rivals, who have claimed the title twice and were defeated in the semi-final by Sarries less than two months ago.
The third team in the pool were Racing 92. Losing quarter-finalists in 2018/19, the French giants were runners-up in 2016 and 2018.
Here we take a closer look at three of the European big guns and our history against them in this competition:
The reigning European and English champions need no introduction.
Their five Premiership titles this decade has seen them establish themselves as one of the leading clubs in world rugby and they have now claimed three European titles in the last four years, securing two domestic and continental doubles in that time.
Household names fill their squad, be it homegrown stars like Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, Jamie George and George Kruis, or big names like Brad Barritt, Elliot Daly, Alex Goode and Wales’ Liam Williams.
Have we met before?
Saracens and the Ospreys have clashed on five occasions in Europe previously.
In April 2008, Saracens were the opposition in the Region’s first ever European quarter-final in wintry conditions at Vicarage Road.
Despite being hot favourites going into the game after defeating Sarries 30-3 in an Anglo Welsh Cup semi-final two weeks earlier, the Ospreys came unstuck in Watford, crashing to a 19-10 defeat, a late Paul James try just a consolation score.
The two teams have twice been drawn together in the pool stages since then Saracens edged a December double header in 2011, coming out on top 31-26 at Wembley before scraping a 16-13 win at the Liberty a week later.
Most recently, they faced off two seasons ago in the Ospreys’ last involvement in the Champions Cup. The two sides played out a thriller at Saracens’ Allianz Park ground in October 2017, the Ospreys leaving with two bonus points following a 36-34 home win.
The return game in Round 5 the following January was a much cagier affair with both teams still in the hunt for the knockout stages, Farrell and Dan Biggar sharing all the points in a 15-15 draw.
One of the traditional powerhouses of the European game, Munster won the old Heineken Cup in 2006 and 2008, finishing runners-up in 2000 and 2002.
The three time Celtic League winners have exited Europe at the semi-final stage on seven occasions since their last win, including each of the last three seasons.
A familiar foe to Ospreys supporters, their squad is packed full of Lions and Ireland stars, including the likes of Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahoney and Tadgh Beirne.
Have we met before?
Despite facing off regularly in the Celtic League, Munster and the Ospreys have only been drawn together in Europe twice previously.
In 2004/05, Munster claimed the honours in both games, winning 20-18 at a sold out Gnoll on All Hallow’s Eve, before a 20-10 win in Limerick the following January.
December 2010 saw the two teams engaged in a feisty double header, Munster winning 22-16 in Thomond Park despite seeing iconic second row, Paul O’Connell red carded. A week later it was the Ospreys who edged a tight contest, Mike Phillips with his team’s only try in a 19-15 victory.
The two sides have also met once in the knockout stages, Munster with a resounding 43-9 win in Limerick on Easter Sunday 2009.
The French side have reached the final twice in the last four years, losing to Saracens in 2016 and Leinster two years later.
Top14 champions in 2016, their sixth title overall but a first in 26 years, they lost to Toulouse by a single point, 22-21, in this season’s Champions Cup quarter-final.
Counting Dan Lydiate and Mike Phillips among their former players, the current, star-studded squad includes a host of familiar names such as Simon Zebo, Finn Russell, Joe Rokocoko and Leone Nakarawa.
Have we met before?
Racing and the Ospreys have played each other twice, in the December 2014 double header.
It finished all square at the Liberty, Racing pulling clear for a 16-3 first half lead only to be pegged back by the hosts, Josh Matavesi’s try against his former club in the 75th minute, converted by Biggar, to ensure a share of the spoils at 19-19.
A week later in Le Mans it was so near, so far, as the Ospreys had to settle for a losing bonus point in an 18-14 loss, Rhys Webb and Eli Walker touching down. Just as had been the case in the first game the French has started brightly and led 15-0 at the break. As they tired, an Ospreys side looking to run it from everywhere came back to within a point, a Johan Goosen kick in the last minute making it safe for the French.
How do I watch these big European games?
All three home pool games are included in an Ospreys 2019/20 season membership, along with all regular season Guinness PRO14 home games.
Prices start at just £155 for adults and an incredible £15 for U16s.
For more information or to buy your membership now, please visit membership.ospreysrugby.com.