The tug of war regarding the premier club competition in European rugby has been conducted very publicly for a long time and a week ago it was reported that an announcement on the structure of future competitions was imminent. However, it all seems to have gone quiet and no final announcement has been forthcoming.
There are rumours that the Italian clubs and their representative bodies were needing to discuss a few details of what should otherwise be a done deal. Furthermore there is the question of the broadcasting battle between Sky and BT Sport which is apparently in the process of being sorted out with a joint broadcast agreement likely for next season. The final rumour is that the parties involved may not have wanted to make any announcements this week in the lead up to the quarter finals of the current Heineken Cup competition.
Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle will be out “for a long time” after suffering a knee injury at the weekend, French club Toulouse have said on Monday.
New Zealand fly-half Luke McAlister has extended his contract with French Top 14 side Toulouse by two years plus the option of a further year, the club have revealed on Thursday.
Round 6 of the European Cup, which includes the Heineken Cup (Premier Competition) and Amlin Challenge Cup (secondary Qualification Competition) happened this past weekend and there was high drama and lots of action!
Sunday evening the full puzzle of who plays where in the Play-Off’s of both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge cup was revealed.
In the Heineken Cup, Ulster will host Saracens, ASM Clermont Auvergne will host Leicester Tigers, whilst the defending champions Toulon will host Leinster and Munster will host Toulouse at Thomond Park. The Quarter-finals will take place on the weekend of 4 to 6 April.
In the Amlin Challenge Cup Northampton Saints, Harlequins and Gloucester have booked their spots in the Quarter-finals along with the amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners Bath, London Wasps, Stade Francais, Sale Sharks and Brive.
Bath will host Brive, London Wasps will host Gloucester, Stade Francais host Harlequins and Sale Sharks will host Northampton Saints.
The race to these Cup winners will be interrupted by the Six Nations tournament, which takes place from 1 February 2014.
If the qualification picture for the European Cup quarterfinals is now significantly clearer following last weekend’s Round Five games, the closing series of pool matches in Europe’s premier club tournament retains its customary intrigue.
It is crunch time in Europe’s premier club tournament, as we enter Round Five of the Euro Cup. The build-up this week may have shone the spotlight on the heavyweight Anglo-French clashes – between Toulouse and Saracens, and Harlequins and ASM Clermont Auvergne – but two other French giants will also be in crucial matches. Defending European champions Toulon host Cardiff Blues in Nice on Saturday, while French champions Castres are at home to Leinster on Sunday.
French rugby is currently full of news regarding player movements and player contract offers and extentions.
Toulouse has offered South African prop, Schalk Ferreira a 3-Tear extention to his current deal after some outstanding performances by him. Toulon has extended Deon Armitage’s contract for 2 years whilst Maxime Mermoz has signed on till 2017. After some speculation about Jonny Wilkinson’s possible retirement, it appears he might want to continue on at Toulon for another year.
Tommaso Allan, Italian international flyhalf, has also won him a contract extention with Perpignan.
Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak was the hero for Toulouse as he scored a crucial try in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash against Toulon in the Top 14.
With the clubs level at the summit of the standings at kick-off, the match was the highlight of the French rugby weekend as Toulouse came back from 12-0 down at half time to win 13-12.
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.
The draw for the pools for the group stage of the 2013/14 Heineken Cup took place on Wednesday. Reigning champions Toulon will be in Pool Two along with RaboDirect Pro12 semifinalists Glasgow Warriors, as well as Cardiff Blues and Exeter.
English champions Leicester are in Pool Five with Ulster and Montpellier.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd announced on Thursday that Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle did not accept an offer to extend his contract past October 31st, 2013. The hooker indicated that he will instead take up an offer with the French club Toulouse.
All Black Hosea Gear has signed with French side Toulouse, New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief Steve Tew said on Friday, playing down fears cashed-up overseas clubs are luring the country’s top talent.
Harlequins, Clermont Auvergne, Ulster and Toulon have all qualified for the quarterfinals of the European Cup, but who will join them in the last eight?
Unbeaten English champions Harlequins are the only ones so far guaranteed home advantage in the quarterfinals, so with plenty to play for in Round Six here is the state of the Pools going into the final weekend of group games.
Undefeated Harlequins and Clermont can book European Cup quarterfinals this weekend with Toulon also close to securing their spot in the last eight. English champions Harlequins, bidding to make the knock-out stages for just the fifth time, already have 19 points from four Pool Three wins and on Saturday tackle Connacht where just a losing bonus point will be enough to see them through.
The Southern Kings have signed Toulouse hooker Virgil Lacombe as their fourth international player for Super Rugby next year.
Two-time defending European Cup champions Leinster host Clermont in the fourth round of the competition this weekend in the knowledge that they will have to dig deep for a “vital” bonus-point victory.
This weekend was a busy one for the Heineken Cup as twelve matches were played in the third round of the competion. The weekend started on Friday night with a comprehensive win for Ulster over Northampton and a win by Connacht against Biarritz. Following Munster’s win over Saracens on Saturday it looked as if there may be a clean sweep of wins for the teams from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
However, Leinster stumbled to a narrow loss in their game against Clermont Auvergne on Sunday. This ended Leinster’s amazing 17 game unbeaten run in the Heineken Cup.
This weekend saw an action packed start to the Heineken Cup. All twenty four teams were involved in the round which started on Friday and ended on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon’s Heineken Cup sixth round pool clashes brought an end to the Pool phase of the Heineken Cup and the quarter finalists have now been decided.
Toulouse’s South Africa hooker Gary Botha broke his right leg in Friday’s French Top 14 win over Montpellier and will be ruled out for up to four months.
Lions (13) 19 / Stormers (23) 33 (Final Score)
The MTN Lions hosted the DHL Stormers at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time. This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
The Stormers scored 3 tries, the Lions 1.