The Champions Cup matches that are actually going ahead this weekend
The Champions Cup is in turmoil as organisers scramble to find a window in the already crowded schedule to stage the seven matches that have been postponed this weekend.
And with the new French travel restrictions that have caused chaos across the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup likely to continue into January, meaningful completion of the group phase is no longer a certainty.
All seven round two games involving French and British clubs on Saturday and Sunday have been called off due to the measures imposed on travellers from the UK that make cross-border competition impossible.
Five Champions Cup games have fallen, on top of the two already lost to Covid outbreaks, and two Challenge Cup matches have also been abandoned.
However, some matches did slip through the net, so to speak.
Harlequins vs Cardiff – Saturday, 1pm
Harlequins and Cardiff have faced each other eight times previously in the Heineken Champions Cup, the Premiership side winning their first meeting before being winless in the following seven.
Harlequins Scrum Coach Adam Jones said: “It was tough out there in our win against Castres last weekend. There were a few hairy moments, but our scrum went really well, our maul defence was excellent and the defence was good. If you don’t get those three things right it can be tough in Europe.
“We saw in Cardiff’s match against Toulouse last Saturday that they have real fight despite their disruption over recent weeks. We know we can’t rest on our laurels as we welcome them to our home ground.”
HARLEQUINS: 15. Tyrone Green, 14. Joe Marchant, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Cadan Murley, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Danny Care, 1. Santiago Garcia Botta, 2. Jack Walker , 3. Simon Kerrod, 4. Hugh Tizard, 5. Stephan Lewies (c), 6. Tom Lawday, 7. Jack Kenningham, 8. Alex Dombrandt.
CARDIFF RUGBY: 15. Cam Winnett, 14. Josh Adams , 13. Rey Lee-Lo, 12. Willis Halaholo, 11. Theo Cabango, 10. Dan Fish, 9. Tomos Williams, 1. Rowan Jenkins, 2. Evan Yardley, 3. Will Davies-King, 4. Alun Lawrence, 5. Seb Davies, 6. Ellis Jenkins (c), 7. James Botham, 8. Sam Moore.
Glasgow Warriors vs Exeter Chiefs, Saturday, 5.30pm
Glasgow Warriors and Exeter Chiefs have faced each other seven times in the Heineken Champions Cup, each of those matches coming during the pool stage of the competition; Glasgow have won none of their last three clashes after winning three of their first four encounters with the Chiefs.
Glasgow Warriors have lost just two of their last 12 games when hosting Premiership opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup, those defeats coming against Northampton Saints in 2015/16 and Saracens in 2018/19.
Exeter Chiefs are unbeaten in their last eight pool stage matches in the Heineken Champions Cup, they had never previously gone more than two games without defeat at this stage of the competition.
Glasgow head coach Wilson, whose side lost 20-13 away to La Rochelle last weekend, said: “It’s great. These are the big games you want to be involved in.
“It was important for us to get these games again and have the chance to play some of these European heavyweights that we’ll have faced over these two weekends.
“The fact we’re back at home is really exciting and it’ll be exciting having a packed Scotstoun to help us along the way.”
GLASGOW WARRIORS: 15. Josh McKay, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Sione Tuipulotu, 12. Samuel Johnson, 11. Cole Forbes, 10. Ross Thompson, 9. Ali Price (c), 1. Jamie Bhatti, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Richie Gray, 6. Matt Fagerson, 7. Rory Darge, 8. Jack Dempsey.
EXETER CHIEFS: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ian Whitten, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Joe Simmonds, 9. Jack Maunder, 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (c), 3. Sam Nixon, 4. Jonny Gray, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Sam Skinner, 8. Sam Simmonds.
Munster vs Castres, Saturday, 8pm
This will be the 17th clash between Munster and Castres Olympique in the Heineken Champions Cup, the most played fixture in the history of the competition; the Irish province have won each of their seven home games against Castres in the Heineken Champions Cup by an average margin of 22 points.
Munster have lost none of their last 14 home games in the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup, keeping their opponents under the 10-point mark in eight of those games, including in each of the last three.
MUNSTER: 15 Patrick Campbell; 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls; 10 Ben Healy, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Dave Kilcoyne, 2 Niall Scannell, 3 John Ryan, 4 Jean Kleyn, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 7 John Hodnett, 8 Jack O’Donoghue.
CASTRES: 15 Thomas Larregain; 14 Bastien Guillemin, 13 Pierre Aguillon, 12 Thomas Combezou, 11 Filipo Nakosi; 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Santiago Arata; 1 Wayan De Benedittis, 2 Paul Ngauamo, 3 Wilfrid Hounkpatin, 4 Loic Jacquet (c), 5 Theo Hannoyer, 6 Nick De Crespigny, 7 Simon Meka, 8 Kevin Kornath.
Leicester Tigers vs Connacht, Sunday, 1pm
Leicester Tigers and Connacht faced each other once previously in European competitions, it was last season in the last 16 round of the Challenge Cup, with a win 48-32 for the Premiership side.
Steve Borthwick said: “I think it will be a formidable challenge, against a team who come to Leicester after a dominant display in the opening round.
“They are a well balanced side, with a tough, hard-working and, equally so, athletic forward pack and then have smart and powerful players throughout the backline.
“Connacht are a team that fights for everything but also play very, very smart rugby.”
LEICESTER TIGERS: 15. Bryce Hegarty, 14. Freddie Steward, 13. Matt Scott, 12. Dan Kelly, 11. Hosea Saumaki, 10. Freddie Burns, 9. Ben Youngs (c), 1. Nephi Leatigaga, 2. Nic Dolly, 3. Joe Heyes, 4. Harry Wells, 5. Eli Snyman, 6. George Martin, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Jasper Wiese.
CONNACHT RUGBY: 15. Tiernan O’Halloran, 14. John Porch, 13. Sam Arnold, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Alex Wootton, 10. Jack Carty (c), 9. Kieran Marmion, 1. Matthew Burke, 2. David Heffernan, 3. Finlay Bealham, 4. Ultan Dillane, 5. Niall Murray, 6. Cian Prendergast, 7. Conor Oliver, 8. Jarrad Butler.
– additional reporting PA
Join free and tell us what you really think!Join Free