With 3 of the 4 quarterfinals taking place on french soil, and all 3 of those against English opposition it could feel somewhat like the Hundred year war for the Premiership sides.
In the only non Anglo-French encounter, Bath travel to Leinster while the remaining fixtures sees Clermont Auvergne take on Premiership table-toppers Northampton Saints, Racing Metro will play last year’s finalists Saracens, and finally champions Toulon will face Wasps.
The record books show that in 72 quarterfinal encounters in Europe’s top flight, 54 have been won by the home club – a staggering 75% success rate for those sides on home soil.
Premiership clubs make up half the Champions Cup quarterfinalists, although all have to play away from home.
English teams have a 20% success rate away from home in the tournament, winning only 4 times in 20 quarterfinal games to date.
For the 9 away matches against French opposition, the success rate is as low as 11%, with only 1 win – Northampton Saints’ 7 / 6 victory over Biarritz Olympique in San Sebastian in 2007.
The only other English away victories in the last 8 have been Leicester Tigers over Leinster Rugby at Lansdowne Road in 2005, Bath at Leicester in 2006 and Saracens against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium last season.
The 3 French clubs in the Champions Cup quarterfinals have never lost at home in the last 8 of Europe’s top flight.
Toulon and Clermont have won home quarterfinals in the past 2 seasons, while Racing Metro have reached the knockout stage for the 1st time in their history.
The odds are definitely stacked against the English clubs, but that does not mean that any of the French teams will take them lightly.
Jake White’s Montpellier bounced back from their comprehensive loss away from home to Glasgow Warriors last week by beating fellow French team Toulouse in their final European Rugby Champions Pool 4 match on Sunday. Montpellier won a closely contested match by the narrowest of margins with a final score of 27 / 26 in their favour.
This victory for Montpellier meant that Saracens qualified for the last eight of the Cup in spite of losing their last Pool 1 match against pool winners Clermont Auvergne. The score in that match Clermont Auvergne 18 / 6 Saracens.
The 5 pool winners along with the 3 best second placed team advanced and Saracens made it through as the last qualifying with the lowest amount of points from their 6 matches (17). Had Toulouse won they would have qualified as Pool 4 winners along with Bath who won their Pool 4 match against Glasgow Warriors. Toulouse also ended the pool stage on 17 points but Saracens got through via a superior points difference, +14 versus Toulouse’s +2.
Racing Metro’s South African flyhalf Johan Goosen is set to be out of action for up to three weeks, after injuring his knee while coming down the stairs of the team bus, his club said Sunday.
The 22-year-old, was set to be in the starting line-up to face Toulouse on Sunday, but missed the 9-15 defeat, after his mishap on arrival in the south of the country.
Daniel Carter, world rugby’s leading points scorer and one of the greatest players to ever don the All Blacks jersey, is to leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the 2015 season.
The All Blacks and Crusaders flyhalf has announced he has signed a three-year deal with French Top 14 club Racing Metro. It will be Carter’s second stint in France after he played five games for Perpignan in 2008-09 during his sabbatical from New Zealand rugby.
32-year-old Carter said it was exciting to confirm his future post 2015.
“It’s going to be an awesome adventure for me and my family. Having visited France many times, including my time with Perpignan, I know what the French culture and their rugby culture is like and it’s something I really love.
“Having said that, it’s the immediate future that is exciting me at the moment. 2015 is going to be a big year and I’m looking forward to getting into it, firstly with the Crusaders and then hopefully with the All Blacks.
George North has insisted he is not planning to return to regional rugby any time soon but backed the new dual-contract system which has attracted Dan Lydiate to return from France.
The Northampton wing hailed Welsh union and regional bosses for finally agreeing a “feasible option” that will boost chances of top stars remaining in the domestic game.
Lydiate capitalised on the new contracts by return from Racing Metro to the Ospreys and will make his debut against Ulster this Saturday.
North believes more top stars could follow suit but stressed his current situation at Northampton suits him “down to the ground”.
The Saints release North for all his Wales commitments, a situation he admits allows him to gain the best of both worlds.
French club Racing Metro are reportedly winning the race to sign All Blacks star Dan Carter in a deal that is tipped to make him the highest paid player in the game with a £1 million contract.
European media is awash with speculation around Carter as the veteran No 10’s future beyond next year’s World Cup continues to grab headlines.
All the various sources were tipping glamour Paris outfit Racing Metro to lure Carter back to the French competition after his painful previous experience of an injury-plagued sabbatical in 2009 with Perpignan.
The Times suggested Carter ‘is close to becoming rugby’s first £1 million man’ with Racing Metro owner Jacky Lorenzetti prepared to ‘break the bank’ for a move that would finally end Carter’s All Blacks career.
Racing Metro backline coach Laurent Labit has been handed a 15-week ban for his disparaging comments against the referee in his side’s loss against Stade Francais.
Labit will be banned from all access to grounds, dressing-rooms and entry areas in all Top 14 and European Cup games up until February 15, the French Rugby League Union announced.
Racing Metro were also hit with a 50,000 euros fine for his words which were seen as tainting the reputation and integrity of South African referee Jacob van Heerden.
Flyhalf Johan Goosen said he has come to France to adapt his game and hopes it will help him earn a Rugby World Cup spot with the Springboks next year.
Former Cheetah, Goosen, 22, has played five times for South Africa, but made the radical decision to up sticks and move to Racing-Metro to help improve his kicking game.
He went with the blessings of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer after an injury-ravaged start to his career that has seen him spend more time on the treatment table – he has undergone three knee operations and one each on his shoulder and arm – than the pitch.
Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton faces a race against time to be fit for the autumn internationals after breaking his jaw while playing for Racing Metro.
The 29-year-old British and Irish Lions star was injured in a heavy clash with Craig Burden in Sunday’s French top-flight contest against Toulon.
South African hooker Burden was sin-binned for the challenge.
Wasps statement on stadium move:
Wasps have responded over growing speculation regarding their possible future stadium in a statement on Sunday.
The Rugby Paper has linked the club with moving their games to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
Quick to address any speculation given possible negotiations to move away from Adams Park in High Wycombe remain sensitive, Wasps have moved quickly to discuss the rumours.
“Wasps are aware of media reports in recent days linking the club to a number of possible new stadiums,” read the statement.
“Wasps has made no secret of a desire to find a permanent home which reflects the ambitions of the club.
French rugby powerbrokers have confirmed no decision will be taken on the Florian Fritz concussion saga until the LNR Executive Committee meets in early September – some four months after the Toulouse centre was led bloodied and reeling from the Stade Ernest Wallon pitch.
In the wake of the incident during the club’s Top 14 barrage against Racing Mètro on May 9, the player’s ill-advised return to the game and the apparent misconduct of head coach Guy Novès are the subject of an investigation from a panel of doctors assembled by the LNR.
Repeated attempts from the IRB – who requested the French bodies launch the investigation – to press both the FFR and LNR for answers proved fruitless until Tuesday (yesterday), when a spokeswoman for the professional league administrators confirmed no action will be taken until after the September meeting.
Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen is on the verge of announcing a move to France at the end of the current Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Goosen has been eyeing a move since early in the season, and is likely to sign for French club Racing Metro in the next few days, leaving his Toyota Cheetahs side with a massive dilemma.
On Friday night Toulouse locked horns against Racing Metro in the Top 14 playoffs for a much-anticipated game at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.
Nineteen minutes in, with Racing Metro 6-3 up, Toulouse’s centre Florian Fritz was tackled and as a result made contact with the onrushing knee of Racing Metro’s Francois Van Der Merwe.
It was a sickening blow, with the results clearly shown on television, as Fritz had blood pouring down his face and splattered on his arm. As play stopped and Toulouse’s medics tended to Fritz, it was clear he was visibly dazed. He had to be escorted off the pitch and stumbled onto the ground when he decided to walk off instead of being carried off on a stretcher.
The Eastern Province Kings are chasing the signature of Springbok prop Brian Mujati ahead of the start of the Currie Cup.
The Kings have already been bolstered by the recent signings of lock Izak van der Westhuizen (Edinburgh), hooker Michael van Vuuren (Stade Français), centre Tim Whitehead (Sharks), scrumhalf Kevin Luiters (Cheetahs) and wing Paul Perez (Samoa).
The Cheetahs are fighting tooth and nail to retain the services of Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen, but know they are in a tough tug-o’-war.
Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie, speaking to this website during the team’s bye week, admitted they are aware of reports that Goosen has dashed off to France for talks about his future.
Springbok and Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen has secretly flown to France to explore possible future career opportunities, the Volksblad website reports.
The Cheetahs have a bye weekend in Super Rugby which enabled the 21-year-old to head abroad.
Harlequins (14) 17 / 3 (0) Racing Metro (Final Score)
harlequins and Racing Metro did battle in the Heineken Cup at
Twickenham Stoop at 14:45 SA Time (12:45 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & CSN on TV in SA.
Struggling Racing-Metro have been given a boost with news that Welsh centre Jamie Roberts is finally ready to play again after a 12-week injury absence.
The barn-storming back sustained a ligament tear in his left ankle, and has had to watch as his team has struggled despite a raft of big-name signings including Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton and Welsh teammates Dan Lydiate and, more recently, Mike Phillips.
Racing Metro’s dire performance in Saturday’s 8-32 Heineken Cup thrashing by English side Harlequins prompted the directors to announce that they had switched the mouthwatering Top 14 clash with European champions Toulon away from Stade de France to its own more modest stadium.
On the European and UK rugby front preparations for the Six Nations tournament of 2014 is gathering momentum, with news trickling through of injuries at this stage ruling some players out of the start of the Six Nations whilst others might miss the whole tournament.
England fullback / wing Ben Foden will likely miss only the start of the Six Nations, with a knee injury suffered for Northampton on the weekend against Newcastle.
England and Wasps wing, Christian Wade is out for 6 months after suffering a foot injury against London Irish over the past weekend.
Wales scrumhalf and “naughty boy” who was axed by Bayonne, Mike Phillips has reportedly signed a two and a half year deal with Racing Metro in France and will be available from Tuesday 3 December 2013.
The Blue Bulls have confirmed that scrumhalf Ruan Snyman has been released with immediate effect to join his new club Racing Metro in France.
The transfer fee has already been paid and Snyman will be able to play as soon as he is selected.
There was much annoyance among Springbok fans when it was announced not long before South Africa’s test match against Argentina in the Rugby Championship that the release of Bryan Habana was required by his new club Toulon. This increased even more when it came to light that five of the players in the current Springbok Squad for the Rugby Championship were being ‘released’ to go back to their clubs in France while the rest of the players would return for a break to South Africa.
Racing Metro have admitted their chances of obtaining the services of either Dan Carter or Jonathan Sexton are slim to none.
The world’s best player, All Black flyhalf Dan Carter, is the latest target of the cash-flush French clubs.
Vodacom Bulls lock Juandrè Kruger did not extend his contract with the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd beyond the the 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby season and will leave the Vodacom Bulls to join up with French club Racing Metro 92.
Struggling French outfit Racing Métro is chasing the signature of the Bulls’ Springbok lock Juandré Kruger.
Saracens will be playing at “home” in Brussels against Racing-Metro in an intriguing second round of European Cup action this weekend.
Racing-Metro’s Springbok utility back Frans Steynwill be fit to play the Top 14 playoff tie against Toulon on 26 May after recovering from a thigh injury, his club confirmed on Wednesday.
Springbok utility back Frans Steyn could be on his way back to South Africa at the conclusion of his contract with French club Racing Metro, which expires at the end of June next year.
Springbok Sevens’ coach Paul Treu has made four changes to his squad for the Sevens World Series tournaments in Wellington and Las Vegas, the SA Rugby Union said on Monday.