Here’s What Each Province Needs To Qualify For The Champions Cup Knockout Stages
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After Munster’s emphatic win over Racing 92 yesterday, everyone has now played four games.
The southern province secured a bonus-point win in the rescheduled clash, leaving them in an enviable position heading into the final two pool games. As things stand, all four Irish province’s can still qualify for the quarter finals, but some have a more uphill task than others.
Leinster and Munster are in the most favourable positions with both sides currently sitting on 16 points heading into the final games, meaning both sides should at the very least secure a second place finish and an away quarter final.
Realistically they are both gunning for home quarters, but the same can’t be said for Connacht and Ulster. Connacht as things stand are still in with a good shout, but Ulster need some big results and things to go there way in order to have any hope of qualifying.
Here’s how things currently stand.
- Saracens: 18 points (+87)
- Clermont Auvergne: 17 points (+55).
- Leinster: 16 points (+86)
- Munster: 16 points (+82)
- Wasps: 13 points (+81)
- Connacht 13 points (+78)
- Toulouse: 13 points (+67)
- Glasgow Warriors: 13 points (+33)
Yesterday’s win sets up a top of the table clash with Glasgow next week. If Munster win it sets up a home game with Racing the following week at Thomond Park where the southern province will be hoping they can rack up some points and secure an even higher seeding. Should Glasgow win, Munster will be relying on Leicester to do a job on the Scots to secure top spot. The home tie to Racing should be fairly straightforward based on yesterday’s game so it really all comes down to next week. If Munster finish on 21 points then Glasgow would need to win both of their games and get at least one bonus point to stay ahead of the Rassie Erasmus’ men. They would also need to deny Munster a losing bonus-point.
Connacht are no doubt still in with a shot if they can overcome their current injury crisis. Thankfully up next for Pat Lam’s men is a home tie with Zebre, with should be a relatively straightforward five points. Wasps still have Zebre to play too which means both sides will end up on at least 18 points, which could secure a play-off spot as seen before. If Wasps beat Toulouse next weekend it will almost guarantee them the pool because of their points difference. This will mean Connacht’s final game with Toulouse in France will basically be a cup final, with the winner advancing the the knockout stages of the tournament.
Leo Cullen’s men head into next week’s clash with Montpellier at the RDS knowing that a win will guarantee them a home quarter final. Leinster however will not be looking to take the foot off the pedal should they secure the win. The more points and the better the points differential, the higher the seeding. Leinster are coasting, but they still need to be professional and get the job done.
Things don’t look good for Ulster. Winning the pool is out of the question, with Clermont needing just one win from their remaining two to secure top spot. 18 or 19 points however could still be enough for qualification so there’s always hope. Ulster need to secure maximum points in their final two games and hope that Leinster give Montpellier a good thrashing on Friday. Les Kiss’ men must travel to Exeter and welcome Bordeaux Begles to the Kingspan. It’s no easy task, but it’s possible with the kind of talent within the Ulster ranks.