Rugby union: talking points from the European Champions Cup

first_imgShare on Twitter Cherry and White and now RedDanny Cipriani must have walked under a lot of ladders last week. Ignored yet again by Eddie Jones, the referee Alexandre Ruiz could not look the other way when he spotted a high tackle on Munster’s Rory Scannell. For his red card Cipriani may be given a five-week ban if the suspension given to Toulouse’s Jerome Kaino for a similar tackle on Bath’s Jamie Roberts is anything to go by. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. After the eight-try drubbing of Wasps last weekend nobody was betting against Leinster repeating their Champions Cup triumph. But Pool 1 was thrown wide open on Sunday with Toulouse’s unexpected victory. Eddie Jones might not have enjoyed the boos at the Ricoh Arena but the England head coach would have appreciated some of the displays. Zach Mercer, with his dancing feet, and Charlie Ewels, leading from the front with a well‑taken try, impressed. All credit to Bath and Freddie Burns for recovering from the farcical defeat by Toulouse, the French blue bloods who showed that they can still make a real impact in this competition again.• Pool results: Toulouse 28-27 Leinster; Wasps 35-35 BathPool 2: Chiefs could come to grief at Thomond ParkThe Chiefs are mightily unlucky to be reflecting that they may need to beat Munster at Thomond Park in their final game if they are to progress to the quarter-finals. Munster had played them at their own game to draw at Sandy Park and, on Saturday in France, Exeter could not exploit the extra man after Maama Vaipulu, the Castres No 8, was sent off for a reckless tackle on Luke Cowan-Dickie. Worryingly for Exeter they have failed to win either game in which they had a firm grip. The French champions have looked ordinary and Munster, who did exploit the extra man after Danny Cipriani’s sending-off for Gloucester, look the best side in this pool.• Pool results: Castres 29-25 Exeter; Munster 36-22 Gloucester Twitter Sportblog Six Nations set to unveil HSBC as championship’s new title sponsor Quick guide Weekend verdict Hide Champions Cup Facebook Share on WhatsApp Itoje’s switch to No 6 could benefit EnglandEngland face two bruising encounters with the Springboks and All Blacks in which the breakdown will be key. Saracens have switched their lock Maro Itoje to the back row and, in the absence of Chris Robshaw, Eddie Jones could do worse, leaving George Kruis to perhaps team up with Courtney Lawes in the second row. It would certainly power up the pack. Pool 5: Wilkinson’s rearview mirror gives double visionA penny for Jonny Wilkinson’s thoughts. Was that really Toulon, winners of three successive Heineken Cups, out there at Murrayfield where their pack was reduced to rubble by Richard Cockerill’s excellent Edinburgh? Full credit to Edinburgh but Toulon, for all their big spending, were bankrupt of ideas. Newcastle, meanwhile, must think bringing down French giants is easy. After that unexpected win in Toulon last weekend, the Falcons beat Montpellier in a pulsating finish with their seven-man pack completing a 39-phase move to bring the house down. Wilkinson’s other old club are the surprise package in this pool on their return to the big time.• Pool results: Edinburgh 40-14 Toulon; Newcastle 23-20 Montpellier Try of the weekendThere were plenty of spectacular tries in Coventry where Joe Cokanasiga chose a good moment to impress the watching Eddie Jones. The hulking young wing cut infield, exchanged passes with Will Chudley and used his strength to muscle over. Jones must be thinking, at least of putting Cokanasiga on the bench next week.Ian Malin Pool 1: Toulouse threaten to bruise Toulon Share on LinkedIn Castres Bath Thank you for your feedback. Was this helpful? Team of the weekend15 Thomas Ramos Toulouse 14 Teddy Thomas Racing 92 13 Manu Tuilagi Leicester 12 Johnny Williams Newcastle 11 Maxime Médard Toulouse 10 Adam Hastings Glasgow 9 Gareth Davies Scarlets 1 Cian Healy Leinster 2 Jamie George Saracens 3 Dan Cole Leicester 4 Steve Mafi Castres 5 Paul Willemse Montpellier 6 Maro Itoje Saracens 7 Hamish Watson Edinburgh 8 Viliame Mata Edinburgh center_img Share on Messenger The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. The kit clash at Cardiff v Glasgow was called ‘an out-and-out disgrace’ by the Blues’ full-back Gareth Anscombe. Photograph: Athena Pictures/Getty Images features Pinterest Share on Facebook Show Leinster Read more Owen Farrell is an England certainty. But where he plays is less clear Exeter Wasps Share via Email Read more Pool 4: Cole fine on Leicester’s front lineIf there were any doubts that Racing would be carrying the French again, they would have disappeared at La Défense Arena. Five tries, including one from the former Munster wing Simon Zebo, helped to run Ulster ragged in Paris and Racing, who lost May’s miserable final to Leinster, look as if they can go one better this time. They appear likely to go unbeaten in Pool 4 but Leicester recalled their glory days in Europe with Friday night’s exhilarating win over the Scarlets. Manu Tuilagi obviously caught the eye, as this was the barnstorming Manu of old, but the win was forged on the anvil of good old Leicester forward power with Dan Cole outstanding again at tighthead.• Pool results: Leicester 45-27 Scarlets; Racing 92 44-12 Ulster Support The Guardian Pool 3: Itoje & co a bonus for SaracensSaracens look unbeatable at the moment. Their win in Barnet on Saturday night was a drab affair with Lyon really deciding to play rugby only when it was too late. Mark McCall called their display scratchy but they still earned a bonus point and a number of players – Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Alex Goode and Michael Rhodes – are at the top of their games. Glasgow impressed in their defeat by Saracens and they went one better with a bonus-point win in Cardiff on Sunday where Adam Hastings once again showed his potential at fly-half and the Warriors look a good bet to sneak into the last eight.• Pool results: Saracens 29-10 Lyon; Cardiff Blues 12-29 Glasgow Share on Pinterest Topics Since you’re here… Reuse this contentlast_img

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