Thursday 19 April 2018

What channel, what time and what are the teams? Everything you need to know about a huge Champions Cup weekend for the Irish provinces

Left to right: Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Simon Zebo, Charles Piutau.
Left to right: Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Simon Zebo, Charles Piutau.
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

It's back! Not the festive period, but rather, Irish rugby's adoration for the European Cup.

It had been two lean season for the provinces in the revamped Champions Cup, with a plodding Leinster's semi-final appearance in 2015 the only flicker of promise shown by Irish teams in the new tournament - until now.

Read more: Racing 92 consider legal action after Player of the Year (24) announces shock retirement to become 'commercial director'

After a barnstorming start, Munster and Leinster are odds on to advance to the knockout phase while Ulster and Connacht are very much in contention after scalping one French giant each through the first three rounds.

This weekend sees the second leg of the perennially mouthwatering back-to-back fixtures, with the Irish teams hoping to return a clean sweep of victories.

Without further ado, here's all the information you need to enjoy this weekend's bumper/feast/festival of European Cup rugby.

Who's playing who?

Leicester vs Munster - Saturday at 15.15 at Welford Road

Connacht vs Wasps - Saturday at 17.30 at The Sportsground

Leinster vs Northampton - Saturday at 19.45 at the Aviva Stadium

Clermont vs Ulster - Sunday at 15.05 at the Stade Marcel-Michelin

Form guide

Leinster and Munster are in the best shape. Leo Cullen's men smashed the Saints at Franklin's Gardens last Friday to leave with a bonus point win and now have a one point lead at the top of Pool 4.

Munster are two for two with two bonus point wins, with their rout of Leicester last weekend giving them a one point lead over Glasgow in Pool 1. However, this will be Munster's first away game of the campaign, having had their clash with Racing 92 in Paris postponed due to the tragic death of Anthony Foley.

Ulster's victory over Clermont at Ravenhill was their second win of the campaign, but they may well have to triumph away this weekend to escape their pool. They currently trail the French side by three points in Pool 5.

Connacht are back at home after a tough visit to Coventry last weekend - and they need another big effort in Galway. Connacht could potentially still progress with a losing bonus point, but that would leave them needing a win away to Toulouse on the final matchday.

They would be much better off winning tomorrow and edging ahead of Wasps, who currently lead them by three points in Pool 2.

What channel are the games on?

This is where the weekend takes a decidedly frustrating turn - especially if you are a Virgin Media subscriber. Despite there being an unbelievable triple header to enjoy on Saturday, most fans won't be able to watch all three without visiting a public house.

Munster (15.15) are being shown on BT Sport 2, as are Leinster (19.45). The main course is on Sky, with Connacht (17.30) on Sky Sports 2, as is Ulster's clash with Clermont on Sunday (15.05)

What are the teams?

Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Adam Thompstone 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge

Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Will Evans, 22 Sam Harrison, 23 Tom Brady


Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne

Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Andrew Conway


Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley

Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Danie Poolman, 23 Naulia Dawai


Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan

Replacements: 16 Alex Rieder, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Marty Moore, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alapati Leiua 23 Frank Halai


Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa(c), 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath

Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Rhys Ruddock, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Rory O’Loughlin


Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi(c), 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 James Craig, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 Ethan Waller

Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 James Wilson


Clermont: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Rémi Lamerat, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Nick Abendanon, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly (c), 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Viktor Kolelishvili, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Arthur Iturria, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphaël Chaume

Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Michael Simutoga, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 22 Patricio Fernández, 23 Aurélien Rougerie


Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Peter Browne, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Kyle McCall

Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andy Warwick, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Jacob Stockdale


What's going to happen?

A bonus point win for Leinster, a narrow win for Munster, and losing bonus point defeats for Connacht and Ulster.

Online Editors

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