Monday 11 December 2017

Everything you need to know about the Irish sides in the Champions Cup this weekend

David Smith

All four Irish provinces are in action in the Champions Cup this weekend. Here's everything you need to know ahead of a big weekend of rugby.

What time/day are the matches on?

Leinster and Connacht will play their respective on Saturday, while the Ulster and Munster matches take place on Sunday.

Saturday (3.15pm): Leinster v Castres Olympique (RDS Arena)

Saturday (5.35pm): Connacht v Toulouse (The Sportsground)

Sunday (2.00pm): Bordeaux-Begles v Ulster (Stade Chaban-Delmas)

Sunday (4.15pm): Racing 92 v Munster (Stade Yves-Du-Manoir) 

Where can I watch the matches?

Leinster v Castres will be shown live on BT Sport, while the other three matches will be shown on Sky Sports.


Leinster v Castres

Leinster should have too much for Castres Olympique at the RDS on Saturday. The French club haven't won in the Challenge Cup since 2013, and have lost their last seven games on the road.

Castres have also yet to win on Irish soil in nine attempts.

Leo Cullen's Leinster have beaten tomorrow's opponents in five of their last six meetings, and are the clear favourites here, and are coming into the game in good form. The province are on a high after a win over rivals Munster, and have won five out of six fixtures in the PRO12.

Connacht v Toulouse

Connacht know what it takes to beat Toulouse. Pat Lam's side managed a shock 16-14 win in the Stade Ernest Wallon in 2013,

and the Connacht manager will be hoping to mastermind another victory over the experienced French side.

Connacht have struggled somewhat since winning the Pro12 Grand Final in May, but appear to have rediscovered their form in

recent weeks.

Toulouse will provide a stern test, despite the fact that their head coach Ugo Mola has failed to win an away game in the

tournament to date.

However, the French side have beaten Connacht by over 20 points on three of their previous four meetings, so Pat Lam's side

will need to produce a massive performance.

Bordeaux-Begles v Ulster

Ulster will travel to France without a host of stars. Charles Piutau, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik, and Darren Cave are all ruled out through injury, and Tommy Bowe has surprisingly been omitted from the squad.

However, Andrew Trimble,  Stuart Olding and Luke Marshall are all expected to return to the side after recovering from their respective injuries.

Pool 5 is a tricky affair, with Clermont Auvergne and Exeter Chiefs making up the group, so both sides will be eager to start with a win.

The main talking point ahead of this game is the clash of Bordeaux's Ian Madigan and Ulster's Paddy Jackson. The two in-form Irish number 10s could be key to the final outcome.

Racing 92 v Munster

This clash will see Ronan O'Gara come up against his home province. The former Ireland international is Racing's defence coach.

Racing are the favourites for Pool One, and will be hoping that a strong performance will deflect attention from their recent off-field controversies.

Racing will be looking to improve on last year's defeat in the final to Saracens, and Dan Carter and Juan Imhoff are likely to be key to any success.

Munster will be smarting after their disappointing loss to Leinster. Rassie Erasmus's team started the season well, and sit atop the Pro12 league alongside Leinster.

Skipper Peter O'Mahony is back in the side, and Erasmus will be hoping players such as Conor Murray and Darren Sweetman can produce their best in this tough away tie.

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