Here’s What The Irish Provinces Need From This Weekend’s Champions Cup Ties
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The final round of the Champions Cup pool stages takes place this weekend with plenty to play for.
Munster and Leinster are already qualified with a game to go, but will be playing for an all important home quarter final and battling to finish as high as they possibly can for seeding purposes.
Connacht can taste the quarter finals, and are only a step away, while Ulster pretty much need a miracle. A win or draw in Toulouse for the western province will be enough to see them through, while Ulster’s loss to Exeter this past weekend has basically ruled them out of contention.
Here’s what each province needs this weekend.
Leo Cullen’s men head into the final round of the competition as the top ranked side. A win in Castres on Friday will guarantee a home quarter final, while a bonus-point win will guarantee a top two seeding. Interestingly they are the only top four ranked side who play away from home this weekend.
Munster’s win over Glasgow on Saturday means they are also guaranteed a quarter final spot at the very least. A win over Racing 92 on Saturday in Thomond Park will guarantee a home quarter. A bonus-point win would go down even better, and give them a chance of a top two seeding.
Pat Lam’s men currently top their pool but still aren’t guaranteed a spot, given how close their pool is. Connacht face Toulouse at the Stade Ernest Wallon and will need a win or draw to guarantee a quarter final spot. Can they repeat their heroics from 2013? We wouldn’t bet against it. All is not lost however if they lose. The western province can also advance if they manage to deny Toulouse a try bonus and claim a losing bonus point, an also if they claim both a losing bonus point and a try bonus. If they finish on level points, Toulouse will go through based on head to head record.
Technically Ulster can still qualify, but don’t hold your breath. A win bonus point against Bordeaux would take them to 14 points. They would need all teams in the current eight to lose and not claim a losing bonus point to stand any chance of claiming the final spot. Highly unlikely.
The quarter-final rankings will determine which half the semi-finalists will be in.
If for example Leinster and Munster were to achieve a ranking of first and second or third, they will be in opposite halves of the semi-final draw, and therefore could not meet before the final.