With unfitting haste we are rushing into the top European club competition just 2 weeks after the Rugby World Cup! Anyway here is my European Rugby Champions Cup round 1 predictions.
First here is a link to my tournament preview.
Leicester Tigers v Stade Francais
Tigers have started the season well to many people’s surprise after losing some house hold name players over the summer. The new coaching setup appears to be working well and there are noises of more to come from that. Stade have had a shocking start to the season and so I’m expecting them to end over their second team as the normal starters are whipped into shape for more pressing games.
Leicester Tigers by 10
US Oyonnax v Ulster
Oyonnax have regressed this year and it looks like they might be fighting against relegation rather than how far up the table they can reach. Ulster have had a mixed bag of results but are still top 5 in the Irish dominated Pro12. French teams really don’t like losing at home but I think that Irishmen should be able to do it this time.
Ulster by 7
Racing Metro 92 v Glasgow Warriors
The big spending Racing may not have Dan Carter in their ranks yet but they will still be stern opposition. Whilst Warriors are going OK they aren’t fully up to speed yet and so I think that we are looking at a narrow home win here.
Racing Metro 92 by 5
Munster v Benetton Treviso
This has home win written all over it with European aristocracy taking on the weakest side in the tournament at home. They will be aiming for the TBP too.
Munster by 15
Saracens v Toulouse
This is the match of the round. Saracens have started the season well which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise even if they were missing players. They are renowned as a club that gets the most out of players and can switch players in and out. Toulouse have also started the season well and are currently sitting second in the Top14 table. We often talk about French sides not travelling well but that shouldn’t apply too much here even so I think the home side will take the points.
Saracens by 7
Northampton Saints v Scarlets
Saints have had a shocking start to the season which is the opposite of Scarlets. In this case though I’m going with class over form. Saints have the class and something like this might be what’s needed to kick them into form. Scarlets have started with a bang but lack the quality across the squad and have struggled in Europe. I think that they will be targeting the Pro12 more as well and so I think Saints will take a narrow win.
Northampton Saints by 3
Leinster v Wasps
Leinster have had a decent season even though a new coaching setup is settling in. Wasps have have a more up and down start to the season and whilst the glamour of this competition will be welcome the Premiership is their primary focus. I expect with home advantage and greater European experience for Leinster to win.
Leinster by 7
Bordeaux Begles v Clermont Auvergne
Put simply Clermont have been in the final or semi final for the last 3 years and have started the season strongly. Whilst Bordeaux have had a decent start to the season and are at home I can’t see them doing anything more than put up a stern defence.
Clermont Auvergne by 7
Toulon v Bath
Both these sides had a tough start to the season. Toulon though put in a good performance last weekend as many of their stars returned. Bath are still rocking from the Burgess disaster. Few teams will take points away from Toulon and an out of form Bath aren’t going to.
Toulon by 10
Ospreys v Exeter Chiefs
Ospreys have had a tough start to the season. They are one of the dudes that’s been affected both by the Rugby World Cup but also injuries. Chiefs have started strongly and have some commentators talking them up as quarter finalists and Premiership playoff contenders. History suggests that European success comes after a couple of seasons finishing at the top domestically. So I think they will win this on form but will probably come up short on qualification.
Exeter Chiefs by 5
Do you think I have it right? Please leave your predictions in the comments below.