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Harlequins suffer Champions Cup thumping at hands of Racing 92

By PA
PA

Harlequins’ hopes of making an impression on the Champions Cup campaign came to a brutal end as they were crushed 49-7 by Racing 92 at The Stoop.

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A week after falling short in Munster, Paul Gustard’s side were overrun across the field and after two Pool B outings they have yet to register a point with final group games against Racing and Munster to come.

Harlequins v Racing 92 - European Champions Cup - Pool 2 - Twickenham Stoop

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Ryan Wilson Christmas

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Ryan Wilson Christmas

It took until the 60th minute to register a point when replacement scrum-half Scott Steele finished a well-orchestrated move that heavily involved Marcus Smith, but by that time last season’s runners-up already had the bonus point sewn up.

Finn Russell was irrepressible as he delved into his box of tricks to keep the home side guessing, but the standout moments were thrilling tries by Teddy Thomas and Simon Zebo.

Quins were battered at every turn and apart from Steele’s try, they never threatened Parisian opposition who have now placed one foot in the quarter-finals and on this evidence will be challenging at the business end of the tournament.

Harlequins v Racing 92 - European Champions Cup - Pool 2 - Twickenham Stoop

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Racing pounced with a stunning finish by Thomas in only the third minute, but the France wing was helped by some feeble defending that invited him through the fringes of a line-out.

Thomas still had work to do but an arching run swept him around a static Quins backline that failed to lay a hand on him.

Racing used brute force at the next attacking line-out as they drove over with ease for hooker Kevin Le Guen to touch down and with scrum-half Maxime Machenaud on target from the kicking tee, it was already looking grim for the home side.

Harlequins v Racing 92 - European Champions Cup - Pool 2 - Twickenham Stoop

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Russell had already produced a range of kicks to keep Quins retreating and as the first quarter ended the lead had stretched to a worrying 20 points.

The one-way traffic was stemmed when neat interchange between forwards Joe Marler and Dominic Bird sent Joe Marchant through a gap but a knock-on halted the move and a promising spell ended when Danny Care was penalised for crossing.

Racing dominated the rest of the first half without making any further impact on the scoreboard but that changed just 37 seconds after the interval when an unprotected blindside was ruthlessly exploited.

Care’s box kick was caught by Zebo and the Ireland full-back raced upfield, interchanged with wing Donovan Taofifenua and strolled across the whitewash for another easy try.

Harlequins v Racing 92 - European Champions Cup - Pool 2 - Twickenham Stoop

Once again a running score was followed up with a forward surge as replacement prop Georges-Henri Colombe touched down when a driving maul arrowed infield from the line-out.

To compound Quins’ escalating misery, Steele was sin-binned and soon after Taofifenua caught Russell’s kick to touch down.

Steele finished a dashing attack down the left as the home side hit back but it was only a brief interruption to the flow of play as Teddy Baubigny and Francois Trinh-Duc scored tries to complete the rout.

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Shaylen 1 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 7 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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