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The Champions Cup matches that are actually going ahead this weekend

By Kim Ekin
Stuart Hogg /PA

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.

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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.

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Youth Unstoppables – Mastercard

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Youth Unstoppables – Mastercard

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.”

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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.

Replacements: 16. Jack Musk, 17. Will Hobson, 18. Mak Wilson, 19. Matt Symons, 20. Viliami Taulani, 21. Lewis Gjaltema, 22. Luke Northmore, 23. Louis Lynagh,
Cardiff Rugby

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.

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Replacements: 16. Alun Rees, 17. Nathtan Evans, 18. Geraint James, 19. Rhys Anstey, 20. Alex Mann, 21. Ethan Lloyd, 22. Ioan Evans, 23. Ryan Wilkins

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.

Jack Nowell
Jack Nowell /PA

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.

Replacements: 16. Johnny Matthews, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Enrique Pieretto Heiland, 19. Kiran McDonald-Seran, 20. Robert Harley, 21. Tom Gordon, 22. George Horne, 23. Duncan Weir,
Exeter Chiefs

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.

Replacements: 16. Jack Yeandle, 17. Ben Moon, 18. Patrick Schickerling, 19. Don Armand, 20. Jannes Kirsten, 21. Sam Maunder, 22. Harvey Skinner, 23. Tom Gilbert-Hendrickson

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.

Champions Cup Munster
Munster beat Wasps last weekend /PA

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.

Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Jack O’Sullivan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Alex Kendellen.

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.

Replacements: 16 Brice Humbert, 17 Julius Nostadt, 18 Antoine Guillamon, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Mateaki Kafatolu, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Louis Le Brun, 23 Antoine Zeghdar.

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.

Leicester Tigers Ben Youngs
Ben Youngs of Leicester Tigers goes past Marcus Smith (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“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.

Replacements: 16. Julian Montoya, 17. James Whitcombe, 18. Dan Cole, 19. Calum Green, 20. Ollie Chessum, 21. Marco van Staden, 22. Jack van Poortvliet, 23. Guy Porter,

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.

Replacements: 16. Shane Delahunt, 17. Tietie Tuimauga, 18. Jack Aungier, 19. Salesi Fifita, 20. Abraham Papali’i, 21. Caolin Blade, 22. Conor Fitzgerald, 23. Diarmuid Kilgallen,

– additional reporting PA

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Jon 7 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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