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Fans slam 'mind-boggling' Champions Cup quarter-final schedule

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The fixtures for the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals have been revealed and there is a glaring fault with the scheduling. 

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In what is usually a veritable feast of top drawer European rugby with four matches played over the one weekend, fans have been put into a position where they can only watch two of the three matches scheduled on the Saturday live due to a fixtures clash. 

Exeter Chiefs host Northampton Saints on April 4 at 15:15 to kick the quarter-finals weekend off, but Clermont’s contest with Racing 92 at the Stade Marcel Michelin will start at the same time (16:15 French time). 

The mouth-watering affair between last season’s finalists Leinster and Saracens at the Aviva Stadium then begins at 17:45. 

Viewers are in a position where there is absolutely no way to watch all three matches live due to the clash. This is new territory as such scheduling has never been made before. 

Either matches straddled the Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the past, or kick-offs have been earlier on the Saturday if there were three matches on the same day.

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As expected, this has been met with utter disbelief by fans, as the decision to deprive them of watching all four matches live seems bizarre. 

While we do live in an age of catch-up TV, it will be hard for devoted fans to avoid the result of a match they have been forced to forgo watching live. 

There have consequently been calls for a change of schedule to overcome this problem, particularly given the calibre of all matches on offer.

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Even though there is no such problem on the Sunday, there have still been complaints that the match between the two teams furthest apart from one another starts so late.

Toulouse host Ulster at Le Stadium, home of Toulouse Football Club, at 15:15 (16:15 local time) which is tough on those fans travelling from Ireland on a Sunday. 

While this may be the age of outrage, fans are completely justified in this situation.   

WATCH: Welsh legend Jamie Roberts fronts up to the media following his arrival at the Stormers

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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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