The European Champions Cup, what’s changed?

rugbyLast season the Quarter Final line up consisted of 4 English team’s, 3 French team’s and 1 Irish province whilst this season there would appear to be fewer English and French teams and they’ve been replaced by 1 Welsh side and a Scottish region.

Of the sides who qualified for the knock out stages last season 4 of the teams are the same (and always they all appear to be the teams who traditionally spend the most money):

  • Wasps, on the back of George Smith’s heroics (with Matt Mullan and James Haskell also featuring in the tournament’s top 10 tacklers)
  • Toulon, whose imperious home form has seen them average almost 43 points per home game this season,
  • Saracens, for whom Chris Ashton and Owen Farrell have combined for 14 clean breaks in the tournament so far and Chris Wyles is the tournament’s top try scorer
  • Racing Metro (or Racing 92 as there are now known) who have one of the competitions top assist producers in “smokin” Joe Rokocoko

Those 4 will probably be joined by:

  • Leicester Tigers under the guidance of former All Black Aaron Mauger who delivered Munster a 31-19 defeat in Thomond Park
  • Glasgow Warriors who have giant winger Taqele Naiaravoro who leads the clean break statistics and has gained more metres than any other player in the competition.
  • Ulster should be the sole Irish province in the Quarter Finals who became the first team to defeat Toulouse at home this season.
  • Ospreys should return to the Quarter Finals on the back of the tournament’s leading scorer Dan Biggar and with Lloyd Ashley and Dan Lydiate who have both recorded 46 tackles in the 319 and 315 minutes they have played respectively.

The eventual Quarter Final line-up could see 3 matches between teams who have been in the same Pool’s during the round robin stage of competition. Leicester should finish as the number seed and should face the Ospreys at Welford Road; Saracens should finish the preliminary round of games as the second seed and may very well face their Pool 1 opponents Ulster. Racing 92 could host their Pool 3 opponents Glasgow and Wasps could face a very uncomfortable trip to the Cote D’Azur to face Pool 5 opponents who they comfortably beat 32-6 in Coventry but Toulon have since welcomed Mama Noun and Duane Vermeulen into their squad while Wasps have lost their star winger Christian Wade to injury.

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