- 1 Friday
- 2 Saturday
- 3 Sunday
The 2021/22 European Rugby Champions Cup kicks off this weekend as the English teams look to make their mark in European rugby.
The English sides have already secured their first win of the new campaign with Bristol picking up a forfeit victory against Welsh side Scarlets, who have been unable to train with players in isolation.
Northampton Saints kick us off on Friday night whilst Leicester Tigers and Union Bordeaux Bègles sees the top of English rugby take on the current best in France.
20:00 – Northampton Saints vs Racing 92
The European Rugby Champions Cup kicks off on Friday night with the Northampton Saints hosting French side Racing 92 at Franklin’s Gardens.
Northampton kick off Pool A’s fixtures looking to build on their strong start to the Gallagher Premiership season, currently sat in 3rd. The Saints have been free-scoring in the English top-flight and will look to overwhelm Racing with their aggressive offence.
The Saints missed out on the knockout stages of the Champions Cup last season due to points difference, having lost Leinster Rugby and Union Bordeaux Bègles.
This year’s Round 1 opponents Racing 92 currently sit in 8th in the French Top 14 with 6 wins and 6 losses on their record.
15:15 – Leinster Rugby vs Bath Rugby
Saturday’s Pool A matches begin with Bath Rugby travelling to Dublin to play last year’s semi-finalists Leinster Rugby.
Bath Rugby have had a dire start to the Gallagher Premiership this season, currently winless and rooted to the bottom of the table with the fewest points scored. The Premiership Rugby Cup did not offer them any respite either, so a European adventure is likely a step too far for Bath this year.
Last season Bath failed to win a game in the group stage, forfeiting against La Rochelle due to Covid-19 before losing a close game to Scarlets.
Leinster currently sit top of the United Rugby Championship with 6 wins and 1 loss, accompanied by a stern points difference. It looks as if Bath are going to take their losing run to the continent.
15:15 – Union Bordeaux Bègles vs Leicester Tigers
The current pride of English rugby, the Leicester Tigers, make the trip to Bordeaux to play Union Bordeaux Bègles in Pool B.
Leicester have been the team to beat in England this season – and no one has managed it yet. The Tigers are unbeaten at the top of the Premiership with 9 wins and the best defensive record in the league.
Leicester finished runners up in the European Challenge Cup last campaign, losing to Montpellier Hérault Rugby 18-17 in the final. The Tigers are making the step up to the Champions Cup this season and their domestic form suggests they are ready to make some noise in Europe.
However, their opponents, Union Bordeaux Bègles, are having a formidable season themselves. Currently sat top of the French Top 14, Bordeaux has 9 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses domestically. The current flagship teams of British and French rugby is sure to provide fireworks.
20:00 – Exeter Chiefs vs Montpellier Hérault Rugby
The Exter Chiefs welcome Montpellier Hérault Rugby to Sandy Park for their opening Pool B matchup on Saturday night.
Exeter has had an up and down start to the season but remain in 5th, in the thick of the action, in the Gallagher Premiership. The Chiefs have tended to be involved in close battles this season, and they will hope that resilience will serve them well in Europe.
Exeter beat Glasgow Warriors and Lyon in last season’s Champion Cup before being knocked out in the quarter-finals by Leinster.
Saturday’s opponents, Montpellier, are currently 3rd in the French Top 14 and experienced winning a European trophy last season with the European Challange Cup.
13:00 – Ospreys vs Sale Sharks
Sale Sharks make the trip to Swansea to play Ospreys in Pool A on Sunday afternoon.
Sale is 11th in the Gallagher Premiership with 3 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses but remain in touching distance of the teams above them. Sale seems to be geared more towards next season with the development of Raffi Quirke and the incoming George Ford so a European campaign will provide them with a distraction from league play.
Sale scraped through the group stages last season, beating Scarlets in the round of 16 before losing to eventual finalists La Rochelle.
Ospreys are currently 4th in the United Rugby Championship but have had issues shoring up their defence this season, holding a -17 points difference as a result.
15:15 – Wasps vs Munster Rugby
The Wasps host Munster Rugby for their Pool B matchup on Sunday afternoon.
Wasps are currently sat 9th of the Gallagher Premiership with 3 wins and 6 losses so far this season. Wasps have not won a game since October so will need to step up in order to be competitive during their European run.
Last campaign Wasps made it to the round of 16 having beaten Dragons and Montpellier in their group before losing a tight game against Clermont.
Sunday’s opponents, Munster Rugby, are in 6th in the United Rugby Championship having not played since October 23rd with their last two games being postponed.
17:30 – Castres Olympique vs Harlequins
Harlequins round off the weekend’s European Championship Rugby action for the English sides, travelling to Castres to play Castres Olympique on Sunday evening in Pool B.
Harlequins dropped to 4th in the Gallagher Premiership last weekend, falling to the Leicester Tigers 16-14 in a tense affair. The game did see the return of a number of international players, however.
Harlequins had a European campaign to forget last year, losing to Munster and Racing 92 in the Champions Cup before getting knocked out in the round of 16 against Ulster in the Challenge Cup.
Castres Olympique sit 6th in the French Top 14 with 6 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses. Castres themselves had a bad European experience last year, failing to qualify from their group in the Challenge Cup.