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Champions Cup Permutations: What Does Every Game Mean This Weekend?

Champions Cup Permutations: What Does Every Game Mean This Weekend?
By Conor O'Leary
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It's getting to the business end of the European Rugby season, and it's time to keep one eye out on what other teams are doing with an eye to the best runners up places for the quarter finals. It's Champions Cup permutations time.

This can get very confusing, especially with the new format, but never fear. We've dusted off our calculators at balls, to figure out what each game this weekend means for the Irish provinces chances of qualifying.

We've also included what we think the quarter finals will be based on how we think the pools will play out.

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Pool 1


Munster's pool is one of the tightest in the competition. As it stands, Munster have thejoint 2nd highest points total for all second placed teams, while Saracens have the highest total for all third placed sides and are by no means out of the running. Both find themselves just a point behind leaders Clermont, with vastly different challenges ahead this weekend.


Munster travel to Clermont, looking to seek revenge for being overpowered at home against one of the top two sides in Europe. Saracens meanwhile, should be looking to get a vital try bonus point win when they host English rivals Sale.

Munster could really use a win against Clermont to get them back in the race for first place. Otherwise they will be nervously waiting for other results to go their way. The loser of that game on Sunday will be at least 3 points behind, and conceivably, Munster could be 6 points behind Clermont and 5 behind Saracens with just 10 points left to play for.

Munster's campaign wouldn't be over if they lost at the weekend, but a losing bonus point is the very least they need. Then, assuming Clermont beat Saracens at home, that final game in Allianz Park will decide 2nd place in this pool. A total of 19 points may be enough to sneak into the quarterfinals, but every bonus point is vital. Irish rugby fans will be hoping Sale upset the Watford based Saracens on Saturday.


We will be watching JJ Hanrahan and Munster on Sunday very closely.

Predicted Final Points Totals: Clermont 23, Munster 16, Saracens 15.

Saturday: Saracens v Sale 5.15 pm


Sunday: Clermont v Munster 3.15 pm

Pool 2



It's a little simpler for Leinster. Beat Harlequins this weekend to be back in with a shout of winning the pool. Lose, and second place is the best they can hope for. They will be hoping to beat Harlequins matchpoint haul of 4-1 from last weekend should the teams finish on the same number of points, which is likely if Leinster win at the weekend.

Wasps are not out of the reckoning either. On 7 points, they are unlikely to win the pool no matter what happens on Saturday night in the palindrome. But a win, especially the forecast big win over disinterested Castres could pull them into contention for the best runner up spot, although fixtures against Leinster and Harlequins could stop that thought.

Leinster will need to perform significantly better, and all eyes will be on their centre partnership to see if Ian Madigan and Luke Fitzgerald can provide the spark that will re-ignite Leinster's season.


For Munster and Ulster, if Leinster beat Harlequins, it's likely one of Quins or Leinster will take a runners up spot, which makes it harder for them.

Predicted Final Points Totals: Harlequins 22, Leinster 21

Saturday Leinster v Harlequins, 7.45 pm


Sunday Wasps v Castres, 1 pm

Pool 3


On the face of it, Leicester's surprise win against Toulon can be viewed in two ways. It's either made it harder for them to come 2nd with Leicester very firmly in the mix, or it's made it easier to come 1st with Toulon coming back to earth.

If Ulster can get another bonus point victory they can still reach a lofty height of 21 points. But that would involve bonus point victories against Leicester and away to Toulon, which is unlikely. Ulster's slim hopes will remain only with a maximum 5 points this weekend, but more than one more victory would be needed to be in with a chance of finishing in one of the top runners up positions.

I remain undecided on what would be a good result for Ulster in the other clash between Toulon and Leicester. A Toulon victory would give Ulster a better chance of second place. Ulster have to focus on themselves first, there situation is that bad.

Predicted Final Points Totals: Toulon 22, Ulster 15,  Leicester 15

Saturday Toulon v Leicester 3.15 pm

Sunday Scarlets v Ulster 5.15 pm

Pool 4

Much like if Leinster beat Harlequins, a Glasgow victory over Toulouse would put one Glasgow and Toulouse in pole position for a runners up spot, with the other team going on to win the pool. Bath can score all the tries they want hosting Montpeiller tonight, they aren't good enough to beat Toulouse and Glasgow, and are therefore out of contention.

I think Glasgow will beat Toulouse on Saturday, leaving this pool as a two horse race, and most likely leaving the other four pool runners up battling for the other two spots.

Predicted Final Points Totals: Glasgow 23, Toulouse 20

Friday Bath v Montpeiller 7.45 pm

Saturday Glasgow v Toulouse 1 pm

Pool 5


There is another key match in the battle for the best 2nd places from this pool. With Northampton likely to fly by Treviso at home, Racing Metro host the Ospreys.

Jonny Sexton's Racing have been doing very well this season, and without Sexton himself will be highly fancied to beat an Ospreys side who have stumbled in recent weeks after a great start. Only an Ospreys victory would keep things open for second place, although Racing and Northampton have still to meet, so one of those teams will drop points.

Predicted Final Points Totals: Northampton 23, Racing 20, Ospreys 14

Saturday Northampton Saints v Treviso 3.15 pm

Saturday Racing Metro v Ospreys 5.15 pm

Predicted Semi Finals:

1. Northampton v 8. Toulouse

2. Glasgow v 7. Racing

3. Clermont v 6. Leinster

4. Toulon v 5. Harlequins

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