Jason Robinson Blog - European Fixtures Preview

It’s Round 3 of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup this weekend and with round four being next week and these fixtures being home and away, the groups will start to take shape and will be able to see which clubs have a big chance of progressing. From experience these are the two ‘killer’ rounds and clubs will be desperately hoping to have a good fortnight.

In the Champions Cup La Rochelle lead the way in Pool One with maximum points from two games. This weekend are the visitors to La Rochelle hoping to build on their current form after a poor run in October. Harlequins maybe bottom but if they turn it on again against Ulster as they did last week with a Danny Care inspired win, Quins could shake up the group.

In Group Two Saracens entertain Clermont Auvergne at Allianz Park and Sarries will be looking to win their winning formula after a recent poor run. Saracens are cup holders but were dealt a blow in midweek when Maro Itoje was diagnosed with a broken jaw and he will be a huge loss. Northampton play Ospreys at Franklins Gardens and Jim Mallinder will be hoping to get a win from this game after a horrendous run of results. Saints may well be out of Europe already but will be looking to use this game to get some confidence back into the players.

On Sunday the top two in Group three go head to head at Sandy Park. Exeter, unbeaten with 8 points entertain Leinster who have a 10-point maximum points haul having beaten Montpellier and Glasgow already. Exeter are a good side and I can see a home win in this game.

On Saturday evening Munster entertain Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park and I can tell you having played there on a cold Saturday evening, it’s not the place you relish playing at. Munster are in a rebuilding process and will be looking to take top spot off Tigers if they win.

Group Five sees Bath travelling to Toulon in a top vs second game. These two have history in the competition and as they both have two wins so far, the home and away games will probably settle the leadership battle.

In the Challenge Cup Newcastle lead group one and can almost steal qualification if they beat Bordeaux at Kingston Park. If the weather forecast is correct the snow wind and rain may play a huge factor in deciding this game.

In Group Two Sale Sharks need a win over Cardiff Blues to stand any chance of pushing for a qualifying spot. It’s a tough group that also includes Toulouse and Lyon.

In Group Three Gloucester will be looking to make up ground on Pao when they travel to Zebre who are bottom of the group. Gloucester are the form team in the Premiership at present and must be looking forward to the remainder of the season. Early doors they lacked consistency, but something clicked, and they are looking good.

London Irish head north to play against Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side and whilst the Exiles focus is Premiership survival I am sure they will be looking to build some momentum before the return to Premiership action.

Finally, Worcester have home advantage over Oyonnax and the warriors could push group leaders Connacht all the way for qualification. Warriors were starting to look good before last weekend when they lost at home to Sale and I think they will be favourites at home on the 4G pitch at Sixways.

I was in Dubai last weekend and played for the ‘Joining Jack’ team in the Vets competition. Our side was made up of ex League and Union players and we had a wonderful time and even won the competition. More importantly the ‘Joining Jack’ Charity built up some great awareness.

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