NEW YORK, NY – The Champions Cup was in full swing and Limerick – of all places – was in the center of it all. Thormond Park was a sight to behold when the Glasgow Warriors trotted out onto the pitch against the lads of Munster. On top of the picks of our esteemed Expert Panel, we’ve got a review of the action. With that, let’s look at the match-ups from the weekend with the winners in bold.
Munster 38-17 Glasgow Warriors – You had to feel sorry for Glasgow. Going to Limerick and winning at Thormond Park is a tough enough task, let alone during European Cup competition. However, with the death of Munster legend and head coach Axel Foley, memorialize by the picture at the start of this piece, no one wanted to be the Warriors this weekend. To be fair to the Warriors, head coach Gregor Townsend attend Foley’s funeral, having faced him in the their days as Scotland and Ireland internationals. From kickoff to final whistle, and despite a red card for Munster wing Keith Earls, the men in Red just played with too much raw emotion and passion to be stopped by any team this weekend.
Leicester Tigers 27-17 Racing 92 – Another tough place to go and get a win is Welford Road, home of the Leicester Tigers. The Tigers have seen better days but it just so happens they are still a formidable side at home. That was the harsh lesson learned by last year’s runner’s up, Racing 92, as they became the Tigers latest home victims.
Toulouse 20-20 Wasps – In a match that some expected Wasps to run away with, their much vaunted firepower was nullified by the fierce Toulouse defense. The Toulouse crowd were in rare form rooting their team towards what many thought would be a close victory. It appeared that would be the result until a try by Nathan Hughes for Wasps in the dying minutes meant the game ended as a draw.
Zebre 7-52 Connacht – No one expected this match to be close and that was essentially what we got as Connacht got an extended training run instead of a game from Zebre.
Saracens 44-26 Scarlets – The fact the Saracens won at home against Scarlets was not a big deal. What was impressive was the fight put up by a Scarlets team that should have crumbled early on. The Scarlets fought valiantly for a side that never really had a chance.
Sale Sharks 5-15 Toulon – Another match that the result was no surprise but the actual contest, was this one. Sale’s budget is but a pittance to Toulon’s but the boys from North England fought bravely at home and made the visitors earn every single point. The boys form Toulon won but they all left knowing they had just been in a scrap to remember.
Montpellier 22-16 Leinster – Montipol’s stifling defense appeared to be too much for Leinster. There is starting be serious concern as to how much Leinster have in the tank to actually be a force on the European scene. Meanwhile Montpellier continues to win while playing a stifling game on both sides of the ball.
Castres 41-7 Northampton Saints – The fact that Castres cruised to victory was not the cause for concern. The small city, big heart club from France is a tough team to play, especially at home. It was more to do with the continuing lack of attacking skill and just all around shambolic form of Saints in Europe and in the Premiership that have some wondering about the future of head coach Jim Mallinder.
Clermont Auvergne 49-33 Bordeaux-Bègles – Stop me if you have heard this before. Clermont is in impressive form. The team that always looks great until the business end of the season or a competition is at it again. Bordeaux seemed prepared for the shootout as they fired their big guns and scored some impressive tries of their own. However, they didn’t have the firepower to match the men in yellow at home in Stade Michelin.
Ulster 19-18 Exeter Chiefs – This was expected to be a tight contest and on-lookers were not disappointed. These two sides slugged it out and the difference appeared to be the home fans as they helped lift the Ulstermen to a very important victory.
Okay… Now on to our Expert Panel and the results of their European Champions Cup Picks!
Just to review, the Panel is comprised of Le Wolfman Ronan Nelson, contrived Kiwi Johnathan Wicklow Barberie, RWU’s French connection James Harrington of Jamesonrugby, West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, Paul Bains of DrivingMaul.com, the infamous Ireland National, Declan Yeats, Film expert and Wales Rugby connoisseur Jonny Lewis, and Jeff Pagano of Harpinonrugby.net . They all must pick the winners of each match and a Pick Of The Week, for which they must also provide the margin of victory.
Surprising Junoir, James and Declan are tied for the lead with Ronan and Paul bringing up the rear. However, it is still early days. There is also a six way tie for the Pick of the week lead.
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Junoir Blaber, @Ronan Nelson, @JamesOnRugby, @JonnyLewisFilms, @HarpinOnRugby, @DrivingMaul, @MeetTheMatts, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.