Clermont, UBB and Toulouse to finish the job, Castres, Montpellier and Stade Français are aiming for the feat … The challenges of the fourth day
It’s already the end of the first phase of the Champions Cup. Before a break until the round of 16 in April, the clubs involved will play the fourth and final day of the pools, from Friday 21 January. Each of the eight French clubs is still in contention, but some will find it harder to qualify than others. Franceinfo: sport takes stock of the challenges of this last day.
Racing and La Rochelle are already there, but…
Racing 92 and Stade Rochelais may have validated their qualifications in the round of 16 last weekend, but one last challenge remains this weekend: securing a place among the top four in Pool A to receive in the round of 16 return, in April. A far from negligible advantage, especially if the restrictive gauges in the stadiums are lifted by then.
– Race 92 (@race92) January 15, 2022
Author of a faultless so far, the Hauts-de-Seine club (1st with 14 points) will be able to settle for a simple defensive bonus against Northampton, Sunday at 4:15 p.m. Morbibonds in Top 14, the Racingmen could rotate during this meeting, against an opponent largely beaten in the first leg (14-45). La Rochelle (3rd with 11 units) moves to Glasgow on Saturday at 9 p.m. You will have to win to clinch a place in the top four. The mission promises to be perilous, but not insurmountable: the Maritimes had taken the best of the Scots at Deflandre in December (20-13).
A last effort for Clermont, UBB and Toulouse
They are not there later, but expected, barring disaster, to be at the rendezvous of the eighth. Sixth in Pool A (7 points), Clermont travels to Ulster to finish the job. With two points ahead of the ninth and first unqualified, ASM must win, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., to avoid calculating. Even if a defensive bonus could be enough depending on the other results, the Auvergnats want to redeem themselves after their defeat in the first leg (23-29).
#ULSvASM In the lair of the Ulstermen
⚠️ Ulster players, kings of the start of the match
– ASM Rugby (@ASMOOfficiel) January 18, 2022
We’re willing to bet it, this notion of revenge will be at the heart of Christophe Urios’ speech before his team’s trip to Leicester. Bordeaux-Bègles (5th in Pool B with 8 points) was frustrated by the Tigers in the first leg (13-16), the club’s only defeat at Chaban-Delmas this year. It would take a huge combination of circumstances for the UBB not to qualify, but the motivation of the Bordeaux and Whites is all found for this clash between the leaders of the French and English championships (even at 4:15 p.m., live on France 2).
A point behind UBB, Stade Toulousain (7th in Pool B) finds Cardiff on Saturday at 2 p.m. If the defeat at the Wasps (30-22) sounded like a reminder, Ugo Mola’s players are four points ahead of the first non-qualified. The big victory in Cardiff in December (7-39) and the poor posture of the Welsh (11th and almost eliminated) augur a meeting within reach of the Stadistes.
Montpellier, Castres and Stade Français in search of a miracle
With five points, Montpellier, 9th in Pool A tied with 8th, is not necessarily in a bad place. Yes, but the Cists suffered a historic slap at Leinster last Sunday (89-7). Deprived of matches for three weeks before the Irish humiliation, the Montpellier residents lack rhythm. The reception of Exeter (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.) is to leave or double: any other result than a victory should signal the end of the adventure in the Champions Cup. Not an easy task, given the final result of the first leg (42-6 for the Chiefs).
— French Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup_FR) January 16, 2022
Always in the game but never rewarded (three short defeats so far), Castres (9th in Pool B with 3 points) attacks a wall. A victory is imperative at Harlequins, Friday at 9 p.m., to keep a hope of qualification. Beaten by a short header in the first leg, the CO hopes to make use of its three bonus points appearing with the group leader, who has already qualified.
Finally, the Stade Français is the worst off of the French clubs. The Parisians (10th in pool B with 2 units) will have to win a success, if possible improved, against Connacht, Sunday at 2 p.m. Winners without appeal in the first leg and not yet qualified, the Irish will not come as expiatory victims. And again, five points might not be enough for the Stadistes depending on the other results… As a last little challenge, the Soldats Roses could join the eighth of the Challenge Cup if they avoid the last place in the group. But do they even want it?