May 21, 2024

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Champions Cup – Finn Smith (Northampton) and Marcus Smith (Harlequins), England vs European Oaks

Champions Cup – Finn Smith (Northampton) and Marcus Smith (Harlequins), England vs European Oaks

In this weekend’s Champions Cup semi-final, two England international openers, Finn Smith (Northampton) and Marcus Smith (Harlequins), will be expected to guide their respective teams against two European behemoths. The first will face Leinster and the second will find Stade Toulouse.

They share the same name, and as a symbol, two of the main prospects in English rugby at the moment. Marcus Smith and Finn Smith, the two starting halves of De La Rose’s XV, maestros of their respective formations, appear to be hugely confident of having an English club – across the Channel – in the Champions Cup final. It will be the first since 2020 and will be Exeter’s coronation against Racing 92. However, it will not be an easy task in Europe against two of the best clubs who will meet in the final this season.

End Smith to Irish Teller

It may be the biggest challenge of Finn Smith’s young career. He and his team take on Leinster (this Saturday at 6:30pm), four-time European champions and considered heavy-favourites.. The 21-year-old, who rightly led the Saints in the Round of 16 against Munster (26-23) and then in the quarter-final against the Bulls (59-22), should raise the cursor further. Can compete with the Irish.

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Smith has taken on a different dimension this season. He became an established manager of his club and earned his first selection with XV de la Rose during the last 6 Nations tournament. He was the great symbol of this new prosperous English generation. Without the pressure, the No 10 sees the clash in front of a huge crowd in Croke Park (80,000 spectators) as a worthwhile experience. “It’s going to be hostile and tough against this big team. We need each other, to be tight. If there are 23 of us who believe in that, that’s what matters to us.” Said the Saints fly-half.

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Marcus Smith returns to State Toulouse

He is apparently already confirmed. The Harlequins flyhalf, already well established in the XV de la Rose formation, gave England victory against Ireland with a last-minute drop. In this 2024 Champions Cup semi-final, he will defy the Irish to find another legend of European rugby. Romain Ntamack’s Stade Toulousein, against whom he will put up a good fight.

Marcus Smith helped his side win against Glasgow in the Round of 16.
PA Images / Icon Sport

The Quins wisp has had an excellent European campaign and will play with his usual movement and initiative. However, he did not have a great match last January when his side lost against Rouge et Noir during the group stage.

Harlequins arrive in Toulouse under no pressure and will try to achieve the same unexpected feat as Northampton. We will undoubtedly have to rely on a great Marcus Smith to succeed in dethroning the five-time European champions.

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Since his return to the competition (after the injury he suffered at the start of the 6 Nations tournament), the 25-year-old fly-half has been feeling good again. He scored 9 tries in all competitions this season and allowed his team to reach the semi-finals of the Champions Cup, with excellent performances against Glasgow and then against Bordeaux-Bégélés. Against Toulouse, this Sunday at 4pm, he will face the best again. In addition to great talent, his competition will be closely scrutinized to see if he is a player capable of leading his club to the European summits.

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