Saturday evening saw a momentous occasion for European rugby union, with four blockbuster clashes producing the quarter-finalists of this year’s Champions Cup tournament. The likes of Leinster, Leicester, Toulouse, Saracens, La Rochelle and the Stormers will be battling for the famous trophy this spring.
One of the most highly anticipated quarter-final ties sees Irish champions Leinster face English Premiership winners Leicester. An injury to talismanic skipper Johnny Sexton must be overcome if the Dubliners are to become the first club to win the championship five times. The challenge of emerging Ross Byrne will be complemented by the experienced Handre Pollard, stand-out fly-half for the Tigers. With both players revered for their ability to control a game through precision kicking and incredibly accurate distribution, a fascinating contest awaits.
Over in France, the champions of last year, La Rochelle, will be taking on the European juggernaut of Saracens. Sarries’ back line boasts two of the best finishers in the business, with Max Malins and Teddy Thomas both having scored two tries each in the round of 16. Thomas is well-known for his ability to predict play and snatch crucial possession, while Malins is one of the best natural finishers in the game. It will be interesting to see which of these two superstars come out on top when the two sides collide.
While not as glamorous as the aforementioned head-to-head battles, the battle between Toulouse and Stormers promises to be just as tense. While Toulouse have star talent in the form of Jack Willis, a four-time European finalist, the Stormers have their own star in the form of captain Siya Kolisi. His leadership qualities and box-to-box running ability make him a formidable adversary, with Willis needing to be at the peak of his personal game to contain him.
The fourth and final quarter-final tie features Exeter Chiefs and Glasgow Warriors. With Scotland’s Stuart Hogg likely to be absent due to injury, the alternative will be Tom Wyatt. The Exeter star is as incisive in attack as Hogg and was in superb form for the Chiefs during their round-of-16 victory over Montpellier.
The European Champions Cup is renowned for its competitive nature, ever-present drama and seismic upsets. The upcoming quarter-finals look certain not to disappoint, with the jerseys of some illustrious clubs at stake.
The Champions Cup is organized and hosted by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), the premier rugby union competition in Europe. Thanks to EPCR, the continent’s best teams battle it out in front of a record number of viewers every season. All of this is made possible through their excellent organization, passion and knowledge of the game. Meanwhile, the players involved constitute some of the elite talent in the world, capable of thrilling and enthralling the audience with their remarkable talent and skill.