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Champions Cup

Champions Cup, Line Ups, Predictions, KO Times & TV Coverage.

We’re predicting a clean sweep for the Irish Provinces

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It’s that time of year again, Heineken Champions Cup time!

It’s back this weekend and celebrating its 25th season!

We’ve taken a look at this weekend’s fixtures, the line ups & the refs and put together our predictions for the weekend!

Here are the fixtures for this weekend along with KO times what TV Channels will be covering the matches.

Weekend Line Ups & Predictions:

Gloucester Rugby v Toulouse

Date: Fri 15 November 2019 KO: 19:45 

Venue: Kingsholm Stadium

GLOUCESTER RUGBY

  • 15. Jason Woodward, 
  • 14. Tom Marshall, 
  • 13. Chris Harris, 
  • 12. Mark Atkinson, 
  • 11. Ollie Thorley, 
  • 10. Danny Cipriani, 
  • 9. Joe Simpson, 
  • 1. Val Rapava Ruskin , 
  • 2. Franco Marais, 
  • 3. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 
  • 4. Freddie Clarke, 
  • 5. Gerbrandt Grobler, 
  • 6. Ruan Ackermann, 
  • 7. Lewis Ludlow, 
  • 8. Ben Morgan (c).

Replacements:

  • 16. Corné Fourie, 
  • 17. Josh Hohneck, 
  • 18. Fraser Balmain, 
  • 19. Alex Craig, 
  • 20. Jake Polledri, 
  • 21. Callum Braley, 
  • 22. Billy Twelvetrees, 
  • 23. Matt Banahan,

TOULOUSE

  • 15. Thomas Ramos, 
  • 14. Yoann Huget, 
  • 13. Sofiane Guitoune, 
  • 12. Romain Ntamack, 
  • 11. Maxime Médard, 
  • 10. Zack Holmes, 
  • 9. Sébastien Bézy, 
  • 1. Cyril Baille, 
  • 2. Julien Marchand (c), 
  • 3. Charlie Faumuina, 
  • 4. Florian Verhaeghe, 
  • 5. Joe Tekori, 
  • 6. Francois Cros, 
  • 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 
  • 8. Jerome Kaino.

Replacements:

  • 16. Peato Mauvaka, 
  • 17. Clément Castets, 
  • 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 
  • 19. Richie Gray, 
  • 20. Selevasio Tolofua, 
  • 21. Alban Placines, 
  • 22. Pierre Pages, 
  • 23. Lucas Tauzin,

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

AR1: Gwyn Morris (Wales)

AR2: Wayne Davies (Wales)

TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Toulouse to win by 7.

Bath Rugby v Ulster Rugby

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: Recreation Ground

BATH RUGBY

  • 15. Freddie Burns, 
  • 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 
  • 13. Jonathan Joseph, 
  • 12. Jamie Roberts, 
  • 11. Ruaridh McConnochie, 
  • 10. Rhys Priestland, 
  • 9. Will Chudley, 
  • 1. Beno Obano , 
  • 2. Tom Dunn, 
  • 3. Will Stuart, 
  • 4. Josh McNally, 
  • 5. Charlie Ewels (c), 
  • 6. Mike Williams, 
  • 7. Sam Underhill, 
  • 8. Zach Mercer.

Replacements:

  • 16. Jack Walker , 
  • 17. Lewis Boyce, 
  • 18. Christian Judge, 
  • 19. Elliott Stooke, 
  • 20. Josh Bayliss, 
  • 21. Chris Cook, 
  • 22. Max Wright, 
  • 23. Gabe Hamer-Webb,

ULSTER RUGBY

  • 15. Will Addison, 
  • 14. Rob Lyttle, 
  • 13. Luke Marshall, 
  • 12. Stuart McCloskey, 
  • 11. Jacob Stockdale, 
  • 10. Billy Burns, 
  • 9. John Cooney, 
  • 1. Jack McGrath, 
  • 2. Rob Herring, 
  • 3. Marty Moore, 
  • 4. Iain Henderson (c), 
  • 5. Sam Carter, 
  • 6. Matt Rea, 
  • 7. Jordi Murphy, 
  • 8. Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements:

  • 16. Adam McBurney, 
  • 17. Eric O’Sullivan, 
  • 18. Tom O’Toole, 
  • 19. Alan O’Connor, 
  • 20. Sean Reidy, 
  • 21. David Shanahan, 
  • 22. Angus Curtis, 
  • 23. Louis Ludik,

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

AR1: Manuel Bottino (Italy)

AR2: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Broadcasters: C4 / Virgin Media / BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Ulster to win by 9

Glasgow Warriors v Sale Sharks

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: Scotstoun Stadium

GLASGOW WARRIORS

  • 15. Tommy Seymour, 
  • 14. Ratu Tagive, 
  • 13. Nick Grigg, 
  • 12. Samuel Johnson, 
  • 11. DTH van der Merwe, 
  • 10. Adam Hastings, 
  • 9. George Horne, 
  • 1. Oli Kebble, 
  • 2. Fraser Brown, 
  • 3. Zander Fagerson, 
  • 4. Robert Harley, 
  • 5. Scott Cummings, 
  • 6. Ryan Wilson, 
  • 7. Callum Gibbins (c), 
  • 8. Matt Fagerson.

Replacements:

  • 16. George Turner, 
  • 17. Alex Allan, 
  • 18. D’Arcy Rae, 
  • 19. Tim Swinson, 
  • 20. Chris Fusaro, 
  • 21. Ali Price, 
  • 22. Peter Horne, 
  • 23. Kyle Steyn,

SALE SHARKS

  • 15. Simon Hammersley, 
  • 14. Marland Yarde, 
  • 13. Cameron Redpath, 
  • 12. Luke James, 
  • 11. Byron McGuigan, 
  • 10. AJ MacGinty, 
  • 9. Embrose Papier, 
  • 1. Ross Harrison, 
  • 2. Rob Webber, 
  • 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley, 
  • 4. Bryn Evans (c), 
  • 5. James Phillips, 
  • 6. Jean-Luc du Preez, 
  • 7. Ben Curry, 
  • 8. Dan du Preez.

Replacements:

  • 16. Akker van der Merwe, 
  • 17. Valery Morozov, 
  • 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 
  • 19. Matthew Postlewhaite, 
  • 20. Jono Ross, 
  • 21. Will Cliff, 
  • 22. Robert du Preez, 
  • 23. Chris Ashton,

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)

AR1: Adrien Descottes (France)

AR2: Cedric Marchat (France)

TMO: Patrick Dellac (France)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Glasgow by 11

Leinster Rugby v Benetton Rugby

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 15:15 

Venue: RDS Arena

LEINSTER RUGBY

  • 15. Jordan Larmour, 
  • 14. Dave Kearney, 
  • 13. Garry Ringrose, 
  • 12. Joe Tomane, 
  • 11. James Lowe, 
  • 10. Johnny Sexton (c), 
  • 9. Luke McGrath, 
  • 1. Cian Healy, 
  • 2. Ronan Kelleher, 
  • 3. Andrew Porter, 
  • 4. Devin Toner, 
  • 5. James Ryan, 
  • 6. Rhys Ruddock, 
  • 7. Josh van der Flier, 
  • 8. Caelan Doris.

Replacements:

  • 16. James Tracy, 
  • 17. Peter Dooley, 
  • 18. Michael Bent, 
  • 19. Scott Fardy, 
  • 20. Max Deegan, 
  • 21. Jamison Gibson-Park, 
  • 22. Ross Byrne, 
  • 23. Rory O’Loughlin,

BENETTON RUGBY

  • 15. Jayden Hayward, 
  • 14. Angelo Esposito, 
  • 13. Nacho Brex, 
  • 12. Alberto Sgarbi (c), 
  • 11. Luca Sperandio, 
  • 10. Ian Keatley, 
  • 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 
  • 1. Nicola Quaglio, 
  • 2. Hame Faiva, 
  • 3. Marco Riccioni, 
  • 4. Ira Herbst, 
  • 5. Dean Budd, 
  • 6. Giovanni Pettinelli, 
  • 7. Braam Steyn, 
  • 8. Nasi Manu.

Replacements:

  • 16. Engjel Makelara, 
  • 17. Federico Zani, 
  • 18. Tiziano Pasquali, 
  • 19. Marco Fuser, 
  • 20. Marco Lazzaroni, 
  • 21. Toa Halafihi, 
  • 22. Tito Tebaldi, 
  • 23. Tommy Allan,

Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)

AR1: Tual Trainini (France)

AR2: Laurent Cardona (France)

TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS / DAZN

Prediction – Leinster by 23

La Rochelle v Exeter Chiefs

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 16:15 

Venue: Stade Marcel Deflandre

LA ROCHELLE

  • 15. Jérémy Sinzelle, 
  • 14. Vincent Rattez, 
  • 13. Geoffrey Doumayrou, 
  • 12. Levani Botia, 
  • 11. Arthur Retiere, 
  • 10. Ihaia West, 
  • 9. Alexi Bales, 
  • 1. Dany Priso, 
  • 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 
  • 3. Arthur Joly, 
  • 4. Romain Sazy, 
  • 5. Mathieu Tanguy, 
  • 6. Grégory Alldritt, 
  • 7. Wiaan Liebenberg, 
  • 8. Victor Vito (c).

Replacements:

  • 16. Facundo Bosch, 
  • 17. Reda Wardi, 
  • 18. Sila Puafisi, 
  • 19. Lopeti Timani, 
  • 20. Kevin Gourdon, 
  • 21. Brock James, 
  • 22. Marc Andreu, 
  • 23. Kini Murimurivalu,

EXETER CHIEFS

  • 15. Stuart Hogg, 
  • 14. Tom O’Flaherty, 
  • 13. Henry Slade, 
  • 12. Ian Whitten, 
  • 11. Alex Cuthbert, 
  • 10. Joe Simmonds, 
  • 9. Nic White, 
  • 1. Alec Hepburn, 
  • 2. Jack Yeandle (c), 
  • 3. Harry Williams, 
  • 4. Dave Dennis, 
  • 5. Jonny Hill, 
  • 6. Dave Ewers, 
  • 7. Jacques Vermeulen, 
  • 8. Sam Simmonds.

Replacements:

  • 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 
  • 17. Ben Moon, 
  • 18. Marcus Street, 
  • 19. Jannes Kirsten, 
  • 20. Don Armand, 
  • 21. Jack Maunder, 
  • 22. Gareth Steenson, 
  • 23. Jack Nowell,

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

AR1: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)

AR2: Dave Sutherland (Scotland)

TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

Broadcasters: beIN SPORTS / FR2 / BT Sport

Prediction – La Rochelle by 2

Ospreys v Munster Rugby

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 17:30 

Venue: Liberty Stadium

OSPREYS

  • 15. Cai Evans, 
  • 14. Hanno Dirksen, 
  • 13. Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 
  • 12. Scott Williams, 
  • 11. Tom Williams, 
  • 10. Luke Price, 
  • 9. Shaun Venter, 
  • 1. Rhodri Jones, 
  • 2. Scott Otten, 
  • 3. Ma’afu Fia , 
  • 4. Marvin Orie, 
  • 5. Lloyd Ashley, 
  • 6. Dan Lydiate (c), 
  • 7. Olly Cracknell, 
  • 8. Morgan Morris.

Replacements:

  • 16. Ifan Phillips, 
  • 17. Nicky Smith, 
  • 18. Gheorghe Gajion, 
  • 19. Bradley Davies, 
  • 20. Sam Cross, 
  • 21. Aled Davies, 
  • 22. James Hook, 
  • 23. Kieran Williams,

MUNSTER RUGBY

  • 15. Mike Haley, 
  • 14. Andrew Conway, 
  • 13. Chris Farrell, 
  • 12. Rory Scannell, 
  • 11. Keith Earls, 
  • 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 
  • 9. Conor Murray, 
  • 1. Jeremy Loughman, 
  • 2. Niall Scannell, 
  • 3. John Ryan, 
  • 4. Jean Kleyn, 
  • 5. Billy Holland, 
  • 6. Peter O’Mahony (c), 
  • 7. Tommy O’Donnell, 
  • 8. CJ Stander.

Replacements:

  • 16. Kevin O’Byrne, 
  • 17. James Cronin, 
  • 18. Stephen Archer, 
  • 19. Tadhg Beirne, 
  • 20. Arno Botha, 
  • 21. Alby Mathewson, 
  • 22. Sam Arnold, 
  • 23. Dan Goggin,

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)

AR1: Ian Tempest (England)

AR2: Paul Dix (England)

TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Munster by 27

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Harlequins

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 18:30 

Venue: Stade Marcel-Michelin

ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE

  • 15. Nick Abendanon, 
  • 14. Peter Betham, 
  • 13. Isaiah Toeava, 
  • 12. George Moala, 
  • 11. Alivereti Raka, 
  • 10. Camille Lopez, 
  • 9. Morgan Parra (c), 
  • 1. Etienne Falgoux, 
  • 2. John Ulugia, 
  • 3. Rabah Slimani, 
  • 4. Paul Jedrasiak, 
  • 5. Sitaleki Timani, 
  • 6. Peceli Yato, 
  • 7. Alexandre Fischer, 
  • 8. Fritz Lee.

Replacements:

  • 16. Mike Tadjer, 
  • 17. Loni Uhila, 
  • 18. Davit Zirakashvili, 
  • 19. Thibault Lanen, 
  • 20. Clement Lanen, 
  • 21. Greig Laidlaw, 
  • 22. Jake McIntyre, 
  • 23. Apisai Naqalevu,

HARLEQUINS

  • 15. Mike Brown, 
  • 14. Cadan Murley, 
  • 13. James Lang, 
  • 12. Francis Saili, 
  • 11. Gabriel Ibitoye, 
  • 10. Marcus Smith, 
  • 9. Danny Care, 
  • 1. Santiago Garcia Botta, 
  • 2. Scott Baldwin, 
  • 3. Simon Kerrod, 
  • 4. Glen Young, 
  • 5. Matt Symons, 
  • 6. Chris Robshaw (c), 
  • 7. Will Evans, 
  • 8. Tom Lawday.

Replacements:

  • 16. Elia Elia, 
  • 17. Mark Lambert, 
  • 18. Phil Swainston, 
  • 19. Tex Cavubati , 
  • 20. Renaldo Bothma, 
  • 21. Martin Landajo, 
  • 22. Michele Campagnaro, 
  • 23. Ross Chisholm,

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)

AR1: Mike English (Wales)

AR2: Gareth Newman (Wales)

TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)

Broadcasters: beIN SPORTS / BT Sport

Prediction – Clermont by 17

Connacht Rugby v Montpellier

Date: Sun 17 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: The Sportsground

CONNACHT RUGBY

  • 15. Darragh Leader, 
  • 14. Niyi Adeolokun, 
  • 13. Kyle Godwin, 
  • 12. Bundee Aki, 
  • 11. Matt Healy, 
  • 10. Jack Carty, 
  • 9. Caolin Blade, 
  • 1. Denis Buckley, 
  • 2. Tom McCartney, 
  • 3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 
  • 4. Cillian Gallagher, 
  • 5. Ultan Dillane, 
  • 6. Colby Fainga’a, 
  • 7. Jarrad Butler (c), 
  • 8. Paul Boyle.

Replacements:

  • 16. David Heffernan, 
  • 17. Matthew Burke, 
  • 18. Conor Kenny, 
  • 19. Eoghan Masterson, 
  • 20. Robin Copeland, 
  • 21. Stephen Kerins, 
  • 22. Tom Daly, 
  • 23. John Porch,

MONTPELLIER

  • 15. Anthony Bouthier, 
  • 14. Gabriel N’gandebe, 
  • 13. Arthur Vincent, 
  • 12. Jan Serfontein, 
  • 11. Yvan Reilhac, 
  • 10. Aaron Cruden, 
  • 9. Benoit Paillaugue (c), 
  • 1. Mikheil Nariashvili, 
  • 2. Youri Delhommel, 
  • 3. Mohamed Haouas, 
  • 4. Nico Janse van Rensburg, 
  • 5. Paul Willemse, 
  • 6. Kelian Galletier, 
  • 7. Yacouba Camara, 
  • 8. Caleb Timu.

Replacements:

  • 16. Bismarck Du Plessis, 
  • 17. Grégory Fichten, 
  • 18. Jannie Du Plessis, 
  • 19. Fulgence Ouedraogo, 
  • 20. Enzo Sanga, 
  • 21. Julien Bardy, 
  • 22. Henry Immelman, 
  • 23. Jacques Du Plessis,

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)

AR1: Hamish Smales (England)

AR2: Simon McConnell (England)

TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Connacht by 5

Northampton Saints v Lyon

Date: Sun 17 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: Franklin’s Gardens

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS

  • 15. George Furbank, 
  • 14. Tom Collins, 
  • 13. Rory Hutchinson, 
  • 12. Piers Francis, 
  • 11. Taqele Naiyaravoro, 
  • 10. Dan Biggar, 
  • 9. Cobus Reinach, 
  • 1. Alex Waller (c), 
  • 2. Mikey Haywood, 
  • 3. Ehren Painter, 
  • 4. David Ribbans, 
  • 5. Courtney Lawes, 
  • 6. Tom Wood, 
  • 7. Lewis Ludlam, 
  • 8. Teimana Harrison.

Replacements:

  • 16. James Fish, 
  • 17. Francois van Wyk, 
  • 18. Owen Franks, 
  • 19. Api Ratuniyarawa, 
  • 20. Jamie Gibson, 
  • 21. James Mitchell, 
  • 22. Matt Proctor, 
  • 23. Ahsee Tuala,

LYON

  • 15. Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 
  • 14. Josua Tuisova, 
  • 13. Pierre-Louis Barassi, 
  • 12. Charlie Ngatai, 
  • 11. Noa Nakaitaci, 
  • 10. Pato Fernandez, 
  • 9. Jonathan Pélissié (c), 
  • 1. Raphael Chaume, 
  • 2. Jeremie Maurouard, 
  • 3. Clément Ric, 
  • 4. Killian Geraci, 
  • 5. Loann Goujon, 
  • 6. Liam Gill, 
  • 7. Patrick Sobela, 
  • 8. Carl Fearns.

Replacements:

  • 16. Mickael Ivaldi, 
  • 17. Hamza Kaabèche, 
  • 18. Demba Bamba, 
  • 19. Hendrik Roodt, 
  • 20. Virgile Bruni, 
  • 21. Baptiste Couilloud, 
  • 22. Jonathan Wisniewski, 
  • 23. Thibaut Regard,

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

AR1: George Clancy (Ireland)

AR2: Robert O’Sullivan (Ireland)

TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Lyon by 4

Racing 92 v Saracens

Date: Sun 17 November 2019 KO: 16:15 

Venue: Paris La Defense Arena

RACING 92

  • 15. Brice Dulin, 
  • 14. Teddy Thomas, 
  • 13. Virimi Vakatawa, 
  • 12. Henry Chavancy (c), 
  • 11. Juan Imhoff, 
  • 10. Finn Russell, 
  • 9. Maxime Machenaud, 
  • 1. Eddy Ben Arous, 
  • 2. Camille Chat, 
  • 3. Cedate Gomes Sa, 
  • 4. Donnacha Ryan, 
  • 5. Boris Palu, 
  • 6. Wenceslas Lauret, 
  • 7. Baptiste Chouzenoux, 
  • 8. Antonie Claassen.

Replacements:

  • 16. Teddy Baubigny, 
  • 17. Hassane Kolingar, 
  • 18. Ali Oz, 
  • 19. Dominic Bird, 
  • 20. Yoan Tanga, 
  • 21. Teddy Iribaren, 
  • 22. Ben Volavola, 
  • 23. Simon Zebo,

SARACENS

  • 15. Matt Gallagher, 
  • 14. Sean Maitland, 
  • 13. Alex Lozowski, 
  • 12. Nick Tompkins, 
  • 11. Roti Segun, 
  • 10. Manu Vunipola, 
  • 9. Ben Spencer, 
  • 1. Rhys Carre, 
  • 2. Jack Singleton , 
  • 3. Titi Lamositele, 
  • 4. Will Skelton, 
  • 5. Callum Hunter-Hill, 
  • 6. Nick Isiekwe, 
  • 7. Ben Earl, 
  • 8. Jackson Wray (c).

Replacements:

  • 16. Joe Gray, 
  • 17. Sam Crean, 
  • 18. Vincent Koch, 
  • 19. Joel Kpoku, 
  • 20. Sean Reffell, 
  • 21. Tom Whiteley, 
  • 22. Damian Willemse, 
  • 23. Duncan Taylor,

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

AR1: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland)

AR2: Paul Haycock (Ireland)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Broadcasters: FR2 / beIN SPORTS / BT Sport

Prediction – Racing by 10

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6 Nations

Double Injury Blow for Leinster

Leinster have been handed two big injuries to two of their key men as they head into the Christmas period

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(Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have confirmed that star fly-half Johnny Sexton has suffered a medial tear in his right knee, while Ronan Kelleher has also had an injury set-back.

Sexton, who went off injured during Leinster’s 43-16 victory over Northampton Saints last Saturday, underwent scans on his knee yesterday and saw a specialist who revealed that he will miss between 6 and 8 weeks of action. 

The 34-year-old is set to miss the opening weekend’s of the 2020 Six Nations as a result, with the first fixture at home to Scotland on February 1st, with Wales coming to town a week later. 

It will remain to be seen how quickly he recovers, but the likelihood is that he will aim to be fit for Ireland’s third game away to England on the 23rd. 

However, his injury causes a slight selection headache for new head coach Andy Farrell, who at this moment is without Sexton and Joey Carbery, but the latter is expected to return from injury later this month. 

Although Sexton’s injury is a big blow, it could open the door once again for Connacht’s Jack Carty to get a run in the Irish line-up, while Leinster teammate Ross Byrne will take the reigns at club-level and with the form he is currently in, will fancy his chances of getting a call up to the national team having missed out on the Rugby World Cup squad. 

The injury also means that Sexton will miss all three of Leinster’s remaining Champions Cup pool fixtures as well as their three inter-provincial derbies over the coming month, with Byrne expected to be backed up by younger brother Harry and Ciaran Frawley. 

Although the bad news for both Leinster and Ireland doesn’t stop there with upcoming star hooker Ronan Kelleher expected to be side-lined for a period with a possible fractured hand, which he is thought to have suffered during last weekend’s game. 

It is thought that Kelleher was in poll position to earn his first call-up to the Irish side for the Six Nations after a blistering start to the season, but this may now dampen his hopes. 

Sean Cronin is believed to be nearing full-fitness once more, which would be a boost for both club and country as he could slot in seamlessly. 

The injuries are piling-up for Leinster, who will also miss centre Joe Tomane for the same period as Sexton through a hamstring injury, while Rory O’Loughlin will miss this weekend’s game with injury. 

James Ryan is also making his way through the back to play protocols after taking a knock to the head against the Saints, but could feature this Saturday. 

Leinster will hope that their squad can cope with the set-backs as they head into this weekend’s home fixture against Northampton, with younger stars now having the chance to lay a marker as the province look to make it 11 wins from 11 at the start of the season.

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6 Nations

Sexton to Miss Northampton Return Game

Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton is set to miss this weekend’s home game against Northampton Saints and there are further injury concerns for the Irish province

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Leinster have confirmed that out-half Johnny Sexton will not feature in this weekend’s return fixture against the Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup.

The Irish-star went down awkwardly in a tackle early in the second-half of Saturday’s 43-16 victory over the Saints and was replaced by Ross Byrne immediately and will now see a specialist later today for further scans on the injury. 

The 34-year-olds fitness uncertainty will come as a massive concern for new Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, with the Six Nations edging closer and with him set to take charge of his first training camp before the New Year. 

As well as his skill-set, many expect Sexton to take over the captaincy from recently retired Rory Best, with his experience being a key component to the Irish side. 

The good news for his province is that Ross Byrne has been in fine form so far this season after his Rugby World Cup omission from the Irish squad and has back-up from younger brother Harry as well as Ciaran Frawley, with Ross likely to take the starting spot this weekend. 

However, Leinster will be without backs Joe Tomane and Rory O’Loughlin this weekend, with the former set to be side-lined for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury following a brilliant opening to the season, while the latter is suffering from a shoulder problem. 

In the forwards James Ryan is undergoing the return to play protocols after taking a knock to the head during Saturday’s win. 

Leinster and Ireland will hope that Sexton makes a speedy recovery, but for the boys in blue their eyes will be firmly set on this weekend’s fixture which could see them all but qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition and they will want to continue their perfect start to the season with an incredible 10 wins from 10.

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Champions Cup

Diamond in Hot Water for Post-Match Comments

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond didn’t hold back on his assessment of his team’s defeat yesterday and his remarks after the game could put him in hot water with the EPCR

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(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond was not happy following his side’s 22-20 loss to the Exeter Chiefs yesterday and didn’t hold back in his post-match press conference.

Diamond was clearly unhappy with referee Mathieu Raynal and his team of officials, citing in particular their decisions not to award penalty tries that he felt were a certainty. 

“Our driving maul is good. I’ve got to be very careful how I say it, but how we can turn the corner from a driving line-out nine metres out and a guy comes in and tackles it and it’s not a yellow card, penalty try, I don’t know. I just said, ‘Good game’. I said, ‘You’ve had a fantastic game, your touch judges had a brilliant game’. Hopefully that’ll go through to their assessors – and we’ll never see the b******s again in Manchester. Joke! Joke, joke, joke. I just get this feeling these days people want more character in the room, not just yes and no questions, so we’re only having a bit of fun,” he said. 

Although he seems to think his comments are just a bit of fun it remains to be seen how well received they are by the EPCR, who will probably be far from amused. 

The former hooker is no stranger to post-match controversy having accused a referee of making up decisions before, as well as pushing opposition staff members and getting into an argument with a journalist last year. 

Sale’s loss leaves them third in Pool 2 of the Champions Cup and looking likely to fail to progress to the knock-out stages. 

However, there has been talk of a boost coming to the club in the form of recently sacked Racing 92 star Leone Nakarawa, who is reportedly being targeted by the side, but Diamond all but put that possibility to bed, while also making a bizarre claim ahead of next weekend’s reverse fixture against the Chiefs. 

“I might just send my kids down, I don’t know yet. That’s what other teams are doing, aren’t they? I might just send my Under-19s down and let Exeter go through. We’ll have a think. We’ll put it to bed, the Fijian lad won’t come to England because the weather’s too cold – it’s not money,” he added. 

So, by those remarks it seems as though Nakarawa won’t be joining the Sharks any time soon and that Diamond may chance playing an understrength side next weekend. 

However, the latter appears unlikely as Sale still have a chance of progressing as they are only two-points off second-placed Glasgow, but at this stage who knows what Diamond will decide to do? What’s certain is that he may have just opened a can of worms for himself with the EPCR. 

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