rugby

Champions Cup: Ango-French showdown in quarter-finals

Grenoble's Rory Grice faces the Stade Français in the Top 14 on 26 February, 2016
Grenoble's Rory Grice faces the Stade Français in the Top 14 on 26 February, 2016 AFP
Text by: Jack Fereday
3 min

Europe's finest rugby clubs will face off in the Champions Cup quarter-finals this weekend. But for the first time ever, only two countries will be represented.

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Five English clubs and three French clubs will be fighting for a place in the semi-finals of this year’s Champions Cup.

The English will be seeking to clench the trophy for the first time since 2007, whilst the French club Toulon will attempt to win it for the fourth consecutive year.

 

  • Wasps v Exeter

 

Full-back Charles Piutau will be back from injury to help Wasps overcome Exeter tomorrow.

Despite winning the Heineken Cup in 2004 and 2007, James Haskell’s men have their work cut out for them.

They will come up against an Exeter team both in form at home and adamant to access their very first semi-final of Europe’s top-tier competition.

 

  • Saracens v Northampton

 

Six Nations Grand slam-winner Owen Farrell will be leading the English champions Saracens into their clash with Northampton in the afternoon.

The Sarries a leading in the domestic league and will be determined to get their first taste of European glory after making it either to the final or the semi-finals in the last three competitions. They will be confident too, after emerging from the group stage unbeaten.

Opposite them, Dylan Hartley needs to inspire Northampton in the same way he led England to Grand-Slam glory less than a month ago.

 

  • Leicester v Stade Français 

 

Meanwhile Leicester will go head-to-head with the Stade Français on Sunday.
The two team have already tested each other twice in the group stage, with both snatching a win each.

The Tigers will benefit from the support of their home crowd, and face a Parisian side currently trailing in 12th place in the Top 14.

 

  • Racing 92 v Toulon 

 

Perhaps the biggest clash of the week-end will see the defending champions Toulon take on Racing 92 just outside Paris on Sunday afternoon.

Toulon has won the last three Champions Cups in a row and has yet to lose a game in the final stages of the competition since Bernard Laporte became manager in 2011.

The former France coach is set to leave the club in a few months and will be eager to end his trophy-laden stint at Toulon in style.

Unlike their last three victorious campaigns, this time Toulon will be battling for a semi-final place away from home. But Mourad Boudjellal’s men will draw strength in their 21-20 win over Racing in the Top 14 just two weeks ago.

Since its acquisition by an ambitious businessman, Jacky Lorenzetti, Racing 92 have yet to clinch any major silverware and are still chasing after their first semi-final place in the Champions Cup.

Their hope will rest heavily on the shoulders of their latest star recruit, the world champion Dan Carter, who will come face-to-face with his fellow All Black team-mate Ma’a Nonu.

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