Due to COVID the European Rugby Challenge Cup has a new format this year. To be honest I’ve not wrapped my head around how it’s all working and what it means for each team. Luckily in Round 1 you can treat them as individual games and not if teams have a chance of qualifying or not.
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Stade Francais v Benetton Rugby – Stade Francais by 7
Stade have had a decent start to the season and sit 4th in the Top 14. There are a couple of sides that should climb above them when postponed games get played but still that’s a good start for the club. Benetton can not say the same. No wins in 7 games so far this season. At least they’ll have their internationals back but it’s looking like a long old season for the Italian side.
Leicester Tigers v Brive – Leicester Tigers by 5
Tigers have been up and down already this season and the Premiership is only 3 rounds in! This weekend though I can’t see Brive putting their first team on the plane over. This will be used as an opportunity to rest players for the bigger battle of Top 14 survival.
Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues – Newcastle Falcons by 10
Falcons have had a great start to the season with 3 wins in 3 games! That’s phenomenal for a promoted side. Cardiff have been up and down, well mainly down and a trip up north is looking like too tall a task for the Welsh side.
Zebre Rugby Club v Bayonne – Zebre Rugby Club by 3
This is a really interesting one to call. Zebre are having a poor season but they will have their internationals back. Do Bayonne care about this competition? I’m guessing not and so a second or third string side will probably make it’s way over to Italy. A moral boosting win for Zebre is my call.
Agen v London Irish – London Irish by 3
A lower table English side going to France and I’ve picked them. That will be a surprise until you realise that Agen have lost 11 from 11 this season and this is a great opportunity for a famous away victory for Irish.
Pau v Worcester Warriors – Pau by 5
This is the call that you’d expect for a lower table English side going to France. Pau will put up a battle in front of their home supporters before sending a reserve side away is my guess.
Ospreys v Castres – Ospreys by 3
Castres aren’t going well this season and again will be looking at Top 14 survival over Challenge Cup glory. Expect a reserve side to make it’s way over to Wales where they’ll face an up and down Ospreys side. That’s better than last season though when it was just a down Ospreys side…..
Hey it’s round 1, give me a chance 🙂