One of the most dramatic weekends of European rugby in recent memory has set up some very tasty Champion’s Cup semi-finals. Munster got the job done in Edinburgh, to set up a meeting with Saracens, who demolished Glasgow. Leinster saw off the challenge of Ulster in an absolute cracker in the Aviva, to book their spot against Toulouse, after the French club pulled off a dramatic one point win away to Racing. After such thrilling rugby this weekend which team is looking the hottest?
Sarries are just looking so good right now. Putting 56 points on a team as good as Glasgow is no mean feat, and they managed this without their most important player Owen Farrell. Saracens were the only club to win all of their pool games, and just have depth and danger all over the park. Liam Williams has been one of the best in the world in his position for the past two or three years and people have been calling for Alex Goode to be playing for England for as long. He showed his versatility this weekend by taking over at 10 when Owen Farrell got called away to the maternity ward, running plays like a guy who plays 10 week in week out. Saracens have X-factor all over the
The champions were run close this weekend by Ulster, but are still a dangerous proposition. Perhaps not quite on the same level as they were last year, Leo Cullen’s charges have a more difficult task ahead of them this year, as they welcome a Toulouse side in flying form to the Aviva. Leinster’s backline depth has been criticised recently, with some people saying that their “stand-ins” (the likes of Dave Kearney, Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin) are not up to scratch for top tier European rugby. Of course reading this you think back to Leinster’s pool game against Toulouse in the RDS, where all these “stand-ins” played and Leinster won comfortably. A fairly safe bet for the final, with a full compliment.
Toulouse are back big time this season. Beat the champions in their first pool game, and defeated Racing in a thriller in the U Arena at the weekend after losing Zach Holmes for a high tackle in the first half. The French giants are flying in the Top 14 this year, they are ten points clear at the top of the table with only two losses from 20 games. They will not fear coming to Dublin, but you would think home advantage will play a big part for Leinster.Embed from Getty Images
Munster are up against it, to put it simply. They will be travelling to the Ricoh Arena to take on Saracens. Munster last played Sarries in the Aviva in 2017, at the same stage of the competition, losing 26-10. It is hard to see Munster coming away with the win here but Munster have a habit of pulling off wins when you don’t expect. Munster are in great form, but Saracens just look unbeatable these daysEmbed from Getty Images
Champions Cup Round 1 Fixtures Confirmed
The Champions Cup opening round fixtures have been announced and there are some big games to kick-off the tournament
The first round of Champions Cup fixtures has been confirmed for the 2019/20 season with the tournament to begin on the weekend of the 15th of November.
Reigning champions Saracens will begin their title defence with a tough away trip to Racing 92 in what is the last game of the weekend on Sunday November 17th.
Elsewhere, last season’s beaten finalists Leinster open their tournament with a home game against competition debutants Benetton on the Saturday, while Northampton Saints host Lyon in the other match in Pool 1.
The first game of what is the 25th edition of the tournament is the Pool 5 clash of Gloucester and Toulouse, as the reigning Top 14 champions look to go a step further than last season’s semi-final defeat to Leinster. Connacht play Montpellier in the groups other game on the Sunday.
The pool stages are set to finish on the second and third weekends of January, while the final itself takes place in the Stade de Marseille on May 23rd 2020.
Another Fijian Heads to Scotland
Glasgow Warriors have confirmed the signing of a Fijian star only two days after Edinburgh captured the signing of Mesulame Kunavula
Glasgow Warriors have announced the signing of Fijian hooker Mesu Dolokota on a two-year deal from Fijian Drua.
The 24-year-old was named in Fiji’s World Cup training squad last month and will join up with the Warriors following the conclusion of the tournament in Japan.
“I’m very happy to be joining Glasgow Warriors and I’m looking forward to playing in two of the best rugby competitions in the world. The opportunity to learn from such an experienced coaching team and play in such a successful team is very exciting for me. The club has a strong Fijian history and I hope I can be a big part of it going forward,” he said.
The hooker has nine international caps for Fiji as well as having experience in Super Rugby with the Brumbies in 2015 and Glasgow assistant coach John Dalziel is delighted to add more experience to the squad.
“Mesu is an exciting talent who will bring even more international experience to our front row. He isn’t your traditional front-row forward, he likes to bring a bit of Fijian flair to his game, but he can also do the basics very well and we’re excited to work with him when he shows up following international duty,” he said.
Dolokoto follows the footsteps of fellow Fijian Mesulame Kunavula, who joined Edinburgh only a couple of days ago and the PRO 14 can look forward to some Fijian flare next season.
Leinster Unveil New European and Alternative Jerseys
Leinster have revealed their European and alternative jerseys for the 2019/20 season
Leinster have unveiled their new Adidas European and alternative jerseys for the 2019/20 season.
Leinster have revealed that the jersey has been inspired by meteorites that were once used to create iron spears and will be worn by the club for the next two seasons.
“The pattern of the Leinster Rugby European jersey takes inspiration from meteorites that fell from the sky and were used by the Laighin people to create their iron spear. These meteorite formations form the graphic design of the jersey paying homage to the tale of the metal of the Gods, providing bold and vibrant energy for Leinster Rugby’s European campaign,” they said on their official website.
The alternative jersey is a shade of purple with black strips horizontally across the shirt.
They have said that this jersey is inspired by the purple skyline that is seen across the east coach of Ireland.
“The Alternate jersey embodies the electric energy of Ireland’s east coast at night. The iconic purple skyline forms the colour inspiration for this season’s kit. Incorporating a twist on the traditional hoop design, the kit harnesses the vibrant energy of the province, whilst maintaining a classic look and feel,” they added.
As well as the two new jerseys Leinster will continue to wear their Adidas home jersey from the 2018/19 season for the season ahead.
You can view the full Leinster Range for the up coming season here.
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