The final weekend of the Champions Cup pool stages has already ensured quarter-final spots for Saracens, Edinburgh, Ulster, Racing and Glasgow. However, due to the tournament's new format, it is looking increasingly likely that there will be some bizarre match-ups to come.
As discussed on this week's World in Union Balls.ie podcast, coming into this weekend there was a good chance there would be an All-Irish quarter-final pairing with Leinster versus Ulster. However, it was also flagged that Ulster could face Racing, who were in the same pool as them.
Rugby journalist Andy McGeady has illustrated how this is not an isolated match-up, but could be the case for three of the four quarter-finals.
So we are still very much on for QF deja vu weirdness...
QF1 Saracens v Glasgow (REPEAT of today!)
QF2 Racing v Ulster (REPEAT of Pool 4)
QF3 Leinster v Toulouse (REPEAT of Pool 1)
QF4 Edinburgh v Munster
— Andy McGeady (@andymcgeady) January 19, 2019
In a bizarre quirk, the most likely outcome of the Champions Cup 1/4 finals features 3 repeats of fixtures that have already happened this year.
The exact same thing has happened in the Challenge Cup:
Clermont v Northampton
La Rochelle v Bristol
Sale v Connacht@andymcgeady
— BallHandling Hooker (@BHHooker) January 19, 2019
With Toulouse to play Bath at home tomorrow, a bonus-point victory for them and victory for Munster would see a Leinster versus Toulouse quarter-final. Munster, in this instance, would play Edinburgh away.
Victory for Munster would also ensure, for the second year in a row, that Saracens are the sole English representative. Exeter director of rugby, Rob Baxter, recently flagged the Premiership scheduling as an issue that needs to be addressed.
Sometimes we really hamper ourselves as a competition. This weekend is a perfect example. Going into the final round, Munster played last Friday and we played on Sunday. Everyone knows we were going to play each other in the final round. How is that deemed to be equal scheduling?