How Things Stand Heading Into The Final Two Rounds Of The Champions Cup
European Champions Cup rugby returns this weekend as we get set for the final two rounds of the pool stages. Only eight teams from twenty will remain in two weeks time, with most sides still in a position to qualify.
Holders Leinster currently sit outside a home quarter final spot, making their clash with Toulouse absolutely crucial. Munster and Ulster are both in a position to qualify, with the former hoping a win over Gloucester will lift them into home quarter final territory.
Let’s take a look at each pool and how things are shaping up ahead of the weekend.
Toulouse’s 28-27 win over holders Leinster in round 2 has put them in control of Pool 1 heading into the final two rounds. But the French side take on Leinster in Dublin this weekend, in a game that will potentially decide who tops the group. Bath and Wasps no longer have anything to play for, but neither team will simply roll over in the final two games.
Munster currently sit top of Pool 2, but their one point loss to Castres in France leaves them on just 12 points – the lowest of all the pool leaders. This means they currently sit just outside a home quarter final spot, so a win against Gloucester in Kingsholm is vital this Friday. As for the other three, it’s as open as it gets. Exeter and Gloucester are level on eight points, while Castres are just a point ahead of the Premiership duo.
All four teams can still qualify and top the group here making Pool 2 by far the most interesting group with two games to go. You’d expect Munster to retain control, but Kingsholm isn’t an easy place to go and who says Exeter can’t come to Thomond Park and cause a huge upset?
Two-time Champions Saracens currently lead the way here with four wins from four. The only other team still alive in this group are Glasgow who host Cardiff Blues this weekend with Sarries travelling to Lyon. The top two sides then meet in Round 6 at Allianz park with top spot potentially on the line.
Last year’s finalists Racing 92 look certain to qualify here, topping the overall charts with their tally of 19 points from their first four games. The only other team still in contention from this pool are Ulster who currently sit in the final second placed qualifying spot with their tally of 14 points.
But the Irish province will welcome Racing to Kingspan this weekend, and could go level on a points with the French side with a bonus-point win. A trip to to take on Leicester at Welford Road awaits in Round 6, so a win of any sort will be crucial if they’re to qualify.
Crazy to think three-time champions Toulon pretty much have nothing to play for heading into the final two rounds, with underdogs Edinburgh surprising everyone at the top of Pool 5. And with Newcastle struggling at the bottom of the Premiership and in danger of relegation – we may be left with a two-way battle between Edinburgh and Montpellier for top spot.
A trip to Toulon awaits Richard Cockerill’s side this weekend with Montpellier hosting Newcastle. Then it’s a clash between Edinburgh and Montpellier at Murrayfield in Round 6. That games promises to be an absolute belter.