Is it me or has the Heineken Champions Cup become a bit farcical this year with 24 teams in it? Looking at the games this weekend there are 2 that jump out as Champions quality and there are maybe a couple of others that you could argue deserve to be here. There are too many fixtures that just don’t live up to the competition.
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Anyway you’re here for my predictions of the games not to understand the tournament so let’s get on with it.
Scarlets v Toulon – Toulon by 3
This is one of the games that deserves to be here even if both sides aren’t at the peek of their recent powers. Scarlets got themselves an away win in the opening round and Toulon won at home so both have plenty to play for. I’m going for the away side as I just think their greater power and spending will see them over the line.
Wasps v Montpellier – Wasps by 10
Montpellier are having a poor season in the Top14 and losing last weekend means they can and probably will give up on this competition. Wasps are up and down but a decent away win last weekend gives them something to build on.
Leinster Rugby v Northampton Saints – Leinster Rugby by 25
Oh boy another massive win for Leinster here. They won last weekend by 21 points away in France. Saints have yet to win a game this season….. It’s going to be ugly and you may even see Leinster rest some players.
Glasgow Warriors v Lyon – Lyon by 5
Glasgow are struggling this season. Having their internationals back we should see them improve but with a big loss last weekend to Exeter do they really have any hope in this competition? Lyon on the other hand thrashed Gloucester and if they send their first string over then I think they’ll pick up the points.
EDIT – This game has had to be cancelled after Exeter players and staff tested positive for COVID
La Rochelle v Bath Rugby – La Rochelle by 15
Top14 table toppers La Rochelle picked up the required away win last weekend. This weekend they host a struggling Bath side and should get another win. Bath can probably already think about focusing exclusively on the Premiership.
Gloucester Rugby v Ulster Rugby – Ulster Rugby by 5
Gloucester are in a mess and this is not going to be their season. Losing their Director of Rugby just before the season and now their starting 10. Ulster had a poor start to the competition last weekend at home but this should be an opportunity to prove to their fans that it’s not another season of false promises.
ASM Clermont Auvergne v Munster Rugby – ASM Clermont Auvergne by 3
This is an absolute cracker!!! Both sides kicked off their Champions Cup campaigns with good wins. Munster are 7 from 7 in the Pro 14 too and Clermont are there abouts in the Top 14 if not at the top. I find thisone impossible to pick so I’m going with home advantage. Obviously it’s not as big a home advantage as usual due to the lack of crowds but still……
Sale Sharks v Edinburgh – Sale Sharks by 3
2 sides with not that much to play for in this competition. Sale, with Dimond leaving immediately recently suggest that, things aren’t great off the pitch at the moment there. Edinburgh a bit like Glasgow will improve now that their internationals are back but again are struggling this season. I’m going for a moral boosting home win in this one.
Bordeaux Begles v Dragons – Bordeaux Begles by 15
Bordeaux have had an easy start to this competition with Saints last weekend and now Dragons at home. It should be a comfortable TBP home win for Bordeaux. Dragons are one of those sides that really shouldn’t be in this compeition.
Harlequins v Racing 92 – Racing 92 by 5
Quins have been up and down a bit this season but if Racing take this seriously then there will be only 1 winner. The only question is how seriously are Racing taking the Champions Cup this season?
Toulouse v Exeter Chiefs – Exeter Chiefs by 5
This is the second stand out game of the weekend. Both sides kicking of the tournament with wins, Toulouse the 4 times champions hosting Exeter the reigning champions. Toulouse are a side that looks like it’s on track to its former glories. However Exeter like Leinster are just so difficult to pick against.
EDIT – Ah well one of the games of the round has been cancelled due to COVID
Connacht Rugby v Bristol – Connacht Rugby by 3
2 sides with opening losses in this competition and also 2 sides that have made decent starts to their domestic competitions. Should be a good game as Pat Lam goes back to his old team and I think home advantage will see them over the line, just.
10 from 12, that’s a really decent start to the tournament.