A brief look at the classification of the two Champions Cup groups reveals the weaknesses displayed by the French clubs during the first two days. In Pool A, for example, four clubs from the Top 14 occupy the last four places.
If Racing 92 and Castres will play big on Sunday, Bordeaux-Bègles, Montpellier and Lyon, who between them have won only one match – the MHR, on the lawn of the London Irish – in the competition this season, are not not in optimal conditions to consider the rest of the operations. But the qualification system (the first eight of the two pools of 12 teams in the round of 16) is such that these three clubs can keep hope.
The UBB wants to export its dynamic
Bordeaux-Bègles is surfing on a series of three victories (La Rochelle, Montpellier, Bayonne), in the Top 14. To find traces of a setback, you have to go back to the last day of the Champions Cup and a match lost at home against Sharks (16-19, December 16) that UBB finds this Saturday afternoon. If the priority objective is not given to international competition and a setback would not destroy the chances of qualification for the final phase, the competent Girondins would continue their dynamic.
Namely to take points in each match since mid-November and the ousting of Christophe Urios. “It reflects the state of mind of a group”, explains Julien Laïrle, who took control of the group in duo with Frédéric Charrier. Thus, with two points, and even if they returned empty-handed from Durban, the UBB would undoubtedly still have their destiny in their hands on the last day (reception of Gloucester) to obtain their ticket for the round of 16.
UBB players during the match against the Sharks on December 16 (16-19). (Sport Icon/Sport Icon)
“The losses to Gloucester and the Sharks allowed us to grow”, explained Laïrle. The latter also hoped that this one-week trip to South Africa, where rugby did not hold a central place, would tighten his team a little more.
Court of Montpellier after the lost points
After winning an improved victory at the London Irish in the opening (27-32), Montpellier played at home against the Ospreys in mid-December (10-21). The French champion therefore has revenge to take tonight against the Welsh and points to make up for. “I hope we were stung enough to be motivated for this matchunderlines the scrum half, Léo Coly. We were catastrophic in the first leg, we are keen to reverse the trend. »
A victory would revive the MHR in its objective of finishing in the top four of Pool B to receive in the round of 16. But a second hitch tonight would endanger the champion of France, who had nevertheless obtained an affordable draw. For this trip to Wales, the MHR moves with heavy, including a second line Chalureau-Willemse and Janse Van Rensburg back in the third line and captain of touch.
Lyon, facing the feat
To keep hope, it will take a feat: to win against the Saracens, an opponent that the LOU has never beaten in three confrontations. Triple winners of the competition (2016, 2017 and 2019), the English are determined to return to the top after a year of purgatory in the Second Division in 2020-2021. The appendix of the fifteen of the Rose currently dominates its Championship and has lost only one meeting since the start of the season. And if the Saracens are practically qualified, they will nevertheless align their type of team. They will just be without opener Owen Farrell, suspended.
” Not even afraid ! », wants to convince the LOU. Ethan Dumortier, who will assess for the first time at the back, even dares the touch of humor: “After all, those who have won a European Cup (the challenge) last year, it’s us! » Reasons to believe it? In the first leg, the Lyonnais had missed their start – after having missed it against the Bulls the previous week – before managing to disrupt the machine despite the defeat (20-28). Remains a chance – small – not to have too many regrets before receiving the Bulls next weekend.