The first block of domestic rugby is now over and we kick off the two new European Rugby competitions. Here are my predictions.
First up here are the links to my previews for the competitions:
Quick disclaimer, I don’t follow the Pro12 or Top14 and so there is a larger element of guessing than usual, especially when we come to the lower teams.
European Rugby Champions Cup 2014-2015 Round 1 Predictions
Harlequins v Castres
Edit – Got my teams mixed up and obviously Castres are really 12th. Since they will be more focused on the domestic front I should have gone for Quins.
Castres are leading the Top14 where as Quins have had a poor start to the season by their standards. So even though French clubs don’t travel well I’m going for Castres for this one.
Sale Sharks v Munster
Sale are another team that have had a tough start to the season and whilst Munster are not fully up to speed either I think the Irishmen will take this one.
Saracens v Clermont Auvergn
OK I know that I have gone for Clermont in my preview but traveling to Saracens is always difficult. Added to that, I don’t think that any of the teams play on 4G pitches in France yet, so I’m going with the home team.
Glasgow Warriors v Bath
Glasgow are a good side and I underestimated them last season in the HC. Bath also are not the same team on the road and so another home win here.
Racing Metro 92 v Northampton Saints
French teams are difficult to beat at home but even so I think that the English champions will have enough to come home with a victory here.
Leicester Tigers v Ulster
Tigers are at home and they are starting to improve, but they still have a whole bunch of injuries. Ulster have started the season OK so I think they’ll be able to get an early march on Tigers and head home with an early win.
Ospreys v Benetton Treviso
Treviso have been awful the season and they are having to travel so Ospreys get an easy win here and should get the TBP.
Toulouse v Montpellier
Everybody was writing Toulouse off but a couple of wins on the trot mean that they are heading into the European games with some form. Clearly these two sides know each other well but I’m going with the European aristocrats on their home turf.
Toulon v Scarlets
Easy one here, I think the champions have a good chance of going back to back so clearly a win over Scarlets.
Leinster v Wasps
Wasps have already been talking about the extra strain on their squad, so travelling to one of the top European sides is always going to be a big ask. Leinster to win this one.
European Rugby Challenge Cup 2014-2015 Round 1 Predictions
Gloucester Rugby v Brive
Gloucester are starting to look like they know who they are playing with, where as Brive are much more concerned about being at the wrong end of the Top14 table. Gloucester to take a relatively easy one at home.
Newcastle Falcons v Bucharest Wolves
Falcons get the opportunity to post a cricket score, a nice confidence booster and reward for their crowd after having to watch so many losses on the trot.
Bordeaux Begles v Edinburgh
Bordeaux have the class to win this tournament. They are doing great in the Top 14 and as long as they take Europe seriously will win this one.
Lyon v London Welsh
I have gone for Lyon but they haven’t been setting the world alight. This could be the chance for Welsh to pick up a moral boosting victory which they very much need. But will they be holding player back for training? Either way a trip to France is never easy and I think Lyon will take the victory.
Cardiff Blues v Grenoble
Cardiff have had a poor start to the season and so I’m going for Grenoble even on the Cardiff 4G pitch. This is all presuming that Grenoble take Europe seriously.
Zebre v US Oyonnax
Zebre have been better but they are still only not bottom of the Pro12 due to Treviso being worse than they are. Oyonnax should get a win on the road.
US Oyonnax win
Connacht Rugby v La Rochelle
Connacht have darted the season well and the big question is about squad depth, can they fight one more than two fronts and will they even try? I’m still going for the Irish men in this one.
Bayonne v Exeter Chiefs
Bayonne have had an OK start to the season but Exeter have had a good one. I’m going to back the away win even though it is going to be a tough trip for the Chiefs. One of the things I’m banking on is Bayonne wanting to concentrate on domestic matters.
Stade Francais v Newport Gwent Dragons
The Parisian playboys against the weakest Welsh region. Stade France it is.
Stade Francais win
London Irish v Rugby Rovigo
Irish vrs who??? This one is a cricket score and 5 points for Irish.