April 23, 2024

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Champions Cup – lesson of the weekend: English hunt behind Toulouse and Leinster

Champions Cup – lesson of the weekend: English hunt behind Toulouse and Leinster

If the perennial Toulouse and Leinstermen take the top spots first, the English competition, reinvigorated by the tightness of their elite, promises to be intense.

Can the lessons be learned from a group stage as complicated as this Champions Trophy and the qualification process be complicated? Since we have to assume yes, let's go… first lesson, then? The English Championship, dedicated to denigration by the vox populists, is not really the elephant's tomb we are being sold… Indeed, if the economic difficulties of our great adversaries are real, the austerity – certainly coincidental. – Their elite has a mechanically positive effect on the performance level of their clubs, something we haven't seen in a party like this for a long time.

With the disbanding of Wasps and London Irish, English clubs actually play four fewer days in their domestic Championship, with squads bolstered by players from both clubs. As a result? Harlequins, Northampton and Exeter will all play round 16 at home, while Bath (who gave Toulouse a tough time), Leicester and Saracens will all be there. In total, the English scored a good six for eight, which proves that they will be strong contenders during the tournament.

There are also South Africans

What about URC representatives? Unsurprisingly, the South African provinces responded, with both the Bulls and Stormers able to secure their ticket at home. If the current weakness of the Welsh provinces was confirmed by Cardiff's poor campaign, the relative disappointment really came from the Irish. Because if Leinster were true to their tradition, by winning one of the two best first places, Munster qualified, and that lasted (especially when Bayon were forced to draw at home) but neither Ulster nor Connacht could win. , suffered two shock defeats at home to Toulouse and UBB. As for the Scots from Glasgow, they have evolved to their level, nothing more, nothing less…

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Then there are our French clubs, five out of eight of whose representatives managed to qualify. We can only give a special mention here to Toulouse, who are undisputed first and 20 out of 20 (four wins in advance) in the regular season. Playing eighth in the Saban-Delmas, UBB should also be commended for its remarkable performance. Racing 92, on the other hand, it's hard not to talk about the relative disappointment of having the formidable honor of facing the Stade in Toulouse, leader of the Top 14. It's a similar story for La Rochelle, who have been slow to find their traveling pace after returning to their internationals, but Cape Town will not travel as far as the Stormers as a relief victim.

Finally, despite his difficulties in the Top 14, Lue did the honors for the premiership by securing a ticket to face his fourth opponent in a year, the Pretoria Bulls. Performances enviable by clubs like Stade Francaise or Toulon, who ended their campaign with zero points. A stark contrast to Bayonne, who fought with gusto until the end.