Leinster will be the first club allocated a pool for the 2012/13 Heineken Cup when the draw takes place in Dublin on June 12
The pool draw for the 24 qualified clubs will launch the countdown to the 2013 Heineken Cup final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on May 18.
Having won Europe’s premier club competition three times in the past four years, Leinster also sit proudly at the top of the ERC European Rankings with 40 points - the highest total achieved by any club since the system was introduced in 2007.
The rankings aim to reward and incentivise clubs which consistently perform at the highest level in European competition over four seasons.
They are used for the purposes of the Heineken Cup pool draw to allocate the clubs that have qualified into four tiers of six clubs and to ensure the highest-ranked clubs are separated in the six pools.
Leinster are joined in Tier 1 by three Heineken Cup winners in Toulouse, Munster and Northampton, while Biarritz and Cardiff Blues complete the top tier of six clubs.
Once the Tier 1 clubs have each been allocated a different pool, no club from the same tier will be drawn in the same pool, and no pool will have more than one club from the same country with the exception of France, as there are seven French clubs in next season’s competition.
Exeter Chiefs from England have qualified for the first time while a second Italian club will be nominated by the Italian Federation.
2012/13 Heineken Cup clubs and tiers:
Tier 1: Leinster, Toulouse, Biarritz, Munster, Cardiff Blues, Northampton
Tier 2: Clermont, Ulster, Leicester Tigers, Harlequins, Toulon, Edinburgh
Tier 3: Ospreys, Scarlets, Glasgow, Saracens, Connacht, Sale
Tier 4: Castres, Treviso, Racing Metro, Montpellier, Exeter Chiefs, Italian club (to be confirmed)