Champions Cup – Changes Ahead
The Champions Cup is entering round 6 where only Saracens of England are assured of a quarter final spot. This of course is big news for the Gallagher Premiership because it may only supply one team to the last 8 although Exeter Chiefs may join them with the right result in Thomond Park next Saturday evening.
We may be about to enter another quarter final phase with only small numbers of Premiership teams namely Saracens and maybe just maybe Exeter Chiefs. The Heineken Cup was changed back in 2014 to see the apparent dominance of one country ended, both the RFU and FFR spoke about forming a breakaway competition and gave the Pro12/14 sides an opportunity to stay with the Heineken Cup and the Pro 12/14 sides decided after a number of discussions with relevant parties that moving to the new competition that is the Heineken Champions Cup from 2015 onward.
Saracens won two titles in 2016 and 2017 after Toulon had won 3 titles on the spin from 2014 to 2016. Some people in the English media are beginning to question how the English sides cannot compete, citing how tough the Premiership is on a weekly basis…
This was talk very similar to what happened back in 2015 when the competition changed to 20 teams. This change may not happen but if Leinster were to go on a win two in a row, mark my words to murmurs will turn into talk and we may see ERPC change the goal posts again. This has happened before and may just happen once more if Leinster do the double.
The Irish sides have done very well this year with all 3 sides in contention for the quarter finals with Munster facing Exeter Chiefs, Ulster heading for Leicester Tigers and Leinster going to Coventry to face Wasps.
Munster need to win to get a quarter final berth and could have a home quarter final if Montpellier defeat Edinburgh on Friday night in Murrayfield. First job’s first, Munster need to beat Exeter and then worry about a quarter final.
For Leinster and Ulster the story is slightly more straight forward, with wins needed to secure passage to the last 8. Both sides will be away from home but have won away this year to fill themselves with confidence heading to round 6.
European rugby still has the thrills and spills it had as the Heineken Cup , in its new guise as the Heineken Champions Cup the same drama can be expected so have the calculators at the ready because round 6 promises to baffle, frustrate and excite in equal measure….
Roll on the weekend starting on Friday night at 7.45pm.