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Anglo-French feel to Champions Cup quarter-finals as veteran Owens given weekend off

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

This month’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals in Dublin, Clermont, Toulouse and Exeter will have an Anglo-French feel to them as two referees from France and two from England have been appointed to take charge of the last-eight round of matches, leaving popular Welsh official Nigel Owens without a game.

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France’s Pascal Gauzere will be in charge when the Champions Cup resumes with the heavyweight clash of No1-ranked Leinster and holders Saracens on September 19 at the Aviva Stadium. This was a match-up officiated by Jerome Garces when the teams met in May 2019 in the final in Newcastle.

Later the same September 19 day, Romain Poite, also of France, will be in the middle for the showdown at Stade Marcel-Michelin between Clermont Auvergne and Racing 92.

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EPCR chairman Simon Halliday explains the revised formats for the 2020/21 European tournaments

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EPCR chairman Simon Halliday explains the revised formats for the 2020/21 European tournaments

Then on Sunday, September 20, England’s Wayne Barnes will take charge of the head-to-head between four-time champions Toulouse and Ulster at Le Stadium, which will be followed at Sandy Park by the meeting of in-form Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints, a tie that will be refereed by Matthew Carley of England.

The Challenge Cup last-eight matches get underway on September 18 with France’s Mathieu Raynal appointed for the clash of Bristol Bears and the Dragons at Ashton Gate.

Ireland’s Frank Murphy will be in the middle for the following day’s Stade Chaban-Delmas meeting of Bordeaux and Edinburgh, while his compatriot, Andrew Brace, has been appointed for the Toulon-Scarlets tie at Stade Felix Mayol.

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The concluding Challenge Cup quarter-final on September 20, which pits Leicester Tigers against Castres Olympique at Welford Road, will be refereed by Mike Adamson of Scotland.

Popular veteran referee Owens has been given the weekend off after being excluded from the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup rosters.

A statement from tournament organisers EPCR read: “All assistant referees and TMOs for the eight quarter-finals are from the unions of countries in which the matches are being played.

“All match official appointments are consistent with the advice of EPCR’s medical advisory group, which includes the chief medical officers of the six unions as well as the medical leads from Gallagher Premiership Rugby, the Guinness PRO14 and the LNR.”

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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