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European Pools

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Post by No 7&1/2 Wed Jun 29, 2022 8:45 am

From the BBC:

'Exeter, Harlequins and London Irish all face trips to South African sides, included in the competition for the first time, in the pool stages of the 2022-23 Heineken Champions Cup.

In Pool A Exeter face Pretoria-based Bulls and French side Castres, while Harlequins face Durban-based Sharks and Racing 92 of Paris.

In Pool B London Irish take on United Rugby Championship winners Stormers and French champions Montpellier, while defending champions La Rochelle meet Northampton and Ulster.

The French side beat Leinster in May to win the competition for the first time.

Wales' only Champions Cup representatives, Ospreys, will face the champions of France and England, Montpellier and Leicester, in Pool B.

Edinburgh meet Castres and Saracens.

Champions Cup organisers have said the inclusion of the three South African sides will bring "a new level of elite rugby".

Two other South African sides, Lions and Cheetahs, will play in the second-tier Challenge Cup.

Worcester will travel to South Africa to face the Johannesburg-based Lions.

Bath have arguably the toughest draw of England's five Challenge Cup representatives, facing Toulon and Glasgow.

How it works
The Champions Cup is the top-tier competition for clubs from England's Premiership, France's Top 14 and the United Rugby Championship, in which sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales and South Africa compete.

The 2022-23 Champions and Challenge Cup season will be played over eight weekends, with four rounds of matches in the pool stage and the opening round of fixtures in both competitions taking place on the weekend of 9-11 December.

In the new format, each team has been drawn to face two opponents, home and away. However, those two opponents do not in turn face each other in a closed mini-league of three; they have their own two teams to face. So, in the draw set out below, Castres will play Exeter and Edinburgh home and away, but Exeter will face Castres and Bulls, Bulls will face Exeter and Lyon, and so on.

The organiser European Professional Club Rugby sets out the rationale for which sides are drawn together here.

At the end of the four rounds of pool games, the top eight teams in each pool progress to a last-16 stage, followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals - which will be played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin - the Challenge Cup decider on Friday 19 May and the Champions Cup final the following day.

Champions Cup
POOL A

Castres Olympique v Exeter Chiefs and Edinburgh Rugby

Saracens v Lyon and Edinburgh Rugby

Bulls v Lyon and Exeter Chiefs

Bordeaux-Bègles v Gloucester and Sharks

Harlequins v Racing 92 and Sharks

Leinster v Racing 92 and Gloucester

Racing 92 v Harlequins and Leinster Rugby

Gloucester v Bordeaux-Begles and Leinster

Sharks v Bordeaux-Bègles and Harlequins

Lyon v Saracens and Bulls

Exeter Chiefs v Castres and Bulls

Edinburgh v Castres and Saracens

POOL B

Montpellier v London Irish and Ospreys

Leicester Tigers v Clermont Auvergne and Ospreys

Stormers v Clermont Auvergne and London Irish

Toulouse v Sale Sharks and Munster

Northampton Saints v La Rochelle and Munster

Ulster v La Rochelle and Sale Sharks

La Rochelle v Northampton and Ulster

Sale Sharks v Toulouse and Ulster

Munster v Toulouse and Northampton

Clermont Auvergne v Leicester and Stormers

London Irish v Montpellier and Stormers

Ospreys v Montpellier and Leicester

Challenge Cup
POOL A

Glasgow Warriors v Perpignan and Bath

Toulon v Zebre and Bath

Bristol v Zebre and Perpignan

Connacht v Brive and Newcastle

Cardiff v Brive and Newcastle

Brive v Connacht and Cardiff

Newcatle v Connacht and Cardiff

Perpignan v Bristol and Glasgow Warriors

Zebre v Bristol and Toulon

Bath v Toulon and Glasgow Warriors

POOL B

Scarlets, Bayonne and Cheetahs

Pau v Dragons and Cheetahs

Wasps v Dragons and Bayonne

Lions v Stade Francais and Worcester Warriors

Benetton v Stade Francais and Worcester Warriors

Stade Francais v Lions and Benetton

Worcester Warriors v Lions and Benetton

Dragons v Pau and Wasps

Toulon v Scarlets and Wasps

Cheetahs v Scarlets and Pau'


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Post by LeinsterFan4life Wed Jun 29, 2022 5:36 pm

Has there ever been less hype for European pool fixtures? This completely passed me by, such a shame what is happening to this great competition.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Wed Jun 29, 2022 7:40 pm

Just stop watching if you don't like it then. No skin off anyones nose.

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed Jun 29, 2022 7:57 pm

LeinsterFan4life wrote:Has there ever been less hype for European pool fixtures? This completely passed me by, such a shame what is happening to this great competition.

Have to admit the old Heineken cup was my fave, but what don’t you like about this one?

Wonder if Ospreys and Leicester can reignite that old passion they once had…

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed Jun 29, 2022 10:37 pm

Lot of rose tinted glasses.

Under the old format teams gave up after three defeats, the French gave up after two defeats (or in the case of Castres after one defeat)

This led to lots of very boring dead rubbers.
I can recall seasons where there was not one interesting Round 6 match

The new format is much better

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Post by doctor_grey Thu Jun 30, 2022 2:52 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:In Pool B London Irish take on United Rugby Championship winners Stormers and French champions Montpellier, while defending champions La Rochelle meet Northampton and Ulster.

Gee. London Irish are really screwed. La Rochelle is really super-screwed.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Thu Jun 30, 2022 7:30 am

doctor_grey wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:In Pool B London Irish take on United Rugby Championship winners Stormers and French champions Montpellier, while defending champions La Rochelle meet Northampton and Ulster.

Gee.  London Irish are really screwed.  La Rochelle is really super-screwed.

Yikes, that's a rotten draw for LI. Montpellier can be hit and miss as to whether they turn up.

La Rochelle Vs Ulster will be a tasty couple of games, Vs Saints as well actually there'll be lots of tries but I'd expect La Rochelle's pack to bully Saints into submission eventually.

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Post by doctor_grey Thu Jun 30, 2022 3:19 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:
doctor_grey wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:In Pool B London Irish take on United Rugby Championship winners Stormers and French champions Montpellier, while defending champions La Rochelle meet Northampton and Ulster.

Gee.  London Irish are really screwed.  La Rochelle is really super-screwed.

Yikes, that's a rotten draw for LI. Montpellier can be hit and miss as to whether they turn up.

La Rochelle Vs Ulster will be a tasty couple of games, Vs Saints as well actually there'll be lots of tries but I'd expect La Rochelle's pack to bully Saints into submission eventually.
No, no, no. I have that covered. I live in New Jersey, home of the late Tony Soprano. I know some guys who will, ahem, help La Rochelle work on their 'breathing techniques'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-vxHIyZ_dk

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Post by Guest Thu Jun 30, 2022 3:41 pm

Let's have no complaining about tournaments and formats, please, as it devalues the competition! Whistle

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Post by tigertattie Thu Jun 30, 2022 3:41 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Just stop watching if you don't like it then. No skin off anyones nose.

I don't think he's saying "the competition sucks"

I think he's saying "This is a great competition, why isn't there much publicity about it"
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Post by doctor_grey Thu Jun 30, 2022 5:37 pm

tigertattie wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Just stop watching if you don't like it then. No skin off anyones nose.

I don't think he's saying "the competition sucks"

I think he's saying "This is a great competition, why isn't there much publicity about it"
That's a good point - In the macro view, I agree there was very little pub about the draws. Rugby needs to make these types of events big events. Just like the NFL player draft - that is now must-watch tv (for the Yanks). Or their college basketball tournament draw shows which always draw good tv ratings. But their true value is the attention it brings to the leagues or competitions. The selection shows draw commercials and adverts which means the leagues are being paid to advertise their sports and comps. Wild, eh?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Jun 30, 2022 5:42 pm

tigertattie wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Just stop watching if you don't like it then. No skin off anyones nose.

I don't think he's saying "the competition sucks"

I think he's saying "This is a great competition, why isn't there much publicity about it"

The pools were announced and then reported on...and then I created this article. Can't have been that much later. What does he want Bill Beaumont to come and knock on is door?

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Thu Jun 30, 2022 5:57 pm

tigertattie wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Just stop watching if you don't like it then. No skin off anyones nose.

I don't think he's saying "the competition sucks"

I think he's saying "This is a great competition, why isn't there much publicity about it"
Exactly. I attended the Toulose game in the Aviva a couple months back and loved it. I just fear where the competition is going.

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Post by doctor_grey Thu Jun 30, 2022 8:55 pm

LeinsterFan4life wrote:
tigertattie wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Just stop watching if you don't like it then. No skin off anyones nose.

I don't think he's saying "the competition sucks"

I think he's saying "This is a great competition, why isn't there much publicity about it"
Exactly. I attended the Toulose game in the Aviva a couple months back and loved it. I just fear where the competition is going.
I don't like the European Pools at all. Seems every time I find myself in a hotel in Europe the pool is always dirty, smelly, or otherwise unclean.

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Post by Unclear Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:44 pm

doctor_grey wrote:
tigertattie wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Just stop watching if you don't like it then. No skin off anyones nose.

I don't think he's saying "the competition sucks"

I think he's saying "This is a great competition, why isn't there much publicity about it"
That's a good point - In the macro view, I agree there was very little pub about the draws.  Rugby needs to make these types of events big events.  Just like the NFL player draft - that is now must-watch tv (for the Yanks).  Or their college basketball tournament draw shows which always draw good tv ratings.  But their true value is the attention it brings to the leagues or competitions.  The selection shows draw commercials and adverts which means the leagues are being paid to advertise their sports and comps.  Wild, eh?

The Champions Cup is a great competition but could do with more publicity. The Challenge Cup could be a great competition with more publicity and money. Getting additional monies from coverage of draws etc. would be excellent. I can think of little worse than watching such a show, but if others want to then the more the better.

I hate the conferences and the reduced number of pool games, but there is already too much rugby being played so I need to accept what is on offer and embrace the intensity and quality of the rugby that is on view. Hating some of the competition structure won't stop me enjoying the games that are played (the same can be said of the URC).

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Post by Welshmushroom Tue Jul 05, 2022 3:37 pm

The biggest issue I have with it is that sides that don't qualify for the knock out stages getting parachuted in to the challenge cup. For me surely the whole point is to have sides in both tournaments progressing on merit. Allowing teams who simply are not good enough in the Champions Cup to qualify for the knockouts in the challenge cup is just a slap in the face to all the teams in the challenge cup.

Going to be a rough year in the Champions cup for Premiership sides, anyone else think the same? Not sure which Premiership sides looking at those fixtures have a realistic chance of making the knock out stages. Whatever the number is will be better than us Welsh as I don't see the Ospreys making it to the knockouts either.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue Jul 05, 2022 4:10 pm

I'd always fancy Saracens. Harlequins can beat anyone and I wouldn't think that Exeter will be as bad.

Leicester seem to have a great system, how quickly can the new guys replace their best 2 players this year in Genge and Ford though?

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Post by Welshmushroom Wed Jul 06, 2022 12:38 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:I'd always fancy Saracens. Harlequins can beat anyone and I wouldn't think that Exeter will be as bad.

Leicester seem to have  a great system, how quickly can the new guys replace their best 2 players this year in Genge and Ford though?

I'd probably give Saracens a decent shout but their record against Edinburgh hasn't be great of late. Plus Lyon have a far bigger budget squad. They could win games here.

Harlequins haven't got a hope in hell. Racing and Sharks have way to much for them in my opinion and I would have thought they will lose both away fixtures and could lose both home games as well although I reckon they probably would beat Sharks at home. Not enough to get through though.

Exeter have basically been gutted in the off season. They don't look like they have anywhere near the depth they had when they won the European Cup. Think both Bulls and Castres are way to much for them. Again reckon they will probably lose 3 out of 4.

Reckon realistically Leicester are probably the only real qualifier as I'd imagine they will do the Ospreys on both legs and probably win one of the games against Clermont.






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Post by No 7&1/2 Wed Jul 06, 2022 12:52 pm

Saracens will be looking to win the tournament let alone making it through.

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