BUFFALO, NY — Someday soon, #Rugby will have a unified calendar so we wont have situation like this. By that I mean less than a month after the Rugby World Cup, the Heineken Cup begins. Before we get to our picks, however, we’d be missing the mark if we didn’t bring up the perennial powerhouse, Saracens.
In shocking fashion and after emotional denials or wrongdoing by their owner Nigel Wray, Sarries simply and stunningly accepted the decision Lord Dyson handed down re their violations of the Premiership’ salary cap. The punishment? A 35-point deduction and a fine of £5.36 million for breaching the cap regulations in the past three seasons. Wow! They admitted just before playing and lost the first round match – one they should have won. But that doesn’t mean they won’t shake this off and be a factor. Indeed, with three titles, including the most recent one the last time out, Saracens are the current favorites to lift the cup again in 2020 according to the odds presented by SportsBettingDime.com.
Now back to our pundits…
Loads of players were being given extended breaks to recover from the Rugby World Cup, so the first round was unpredictable with perennial powerhouses looking very weak. Let’s look at the games our panel got right and the ones they got wrong.
Games Our Panel Got Right
Gloucester vs Toulouse
Leinster vs Benetton
Bath vs Ulster
Ospreys vs. Munster
Northampton Saints vs Lyon
The Pundits were all in unison on these five games. The only one that got scary was the Bath-Ulster game which became squeaky bum time, as Ulster won by the narrowest of margins. The group also expected a very big win from Leinster but they only managed a solid win againt Benetton.
Games Our Panel Got Wrong
Glasgow Warriors vs Sale
La Rochelle vs Exeter Chiefs
ASM Clermont Auvergne vs Harlequins
Racing 92 vs Saracens
Connacht vs Montpellier
The Glasgow-Sale match and the ASM Clermont – Harlequins game saw only two pundits go against the tide, so there was agreement. But it wasn’t like the other three games. They disagreed on which were essentially split decisions of 4 v 3. These were in the 3 big matches of the weekend which unfortunately didn’t turn out to be as competitive on the field as many expected on paper.
Picks of the Week
As mentioned earlier, a lot was expected from Leinster but they didn’t deliver the big win that 4 pundits had hoped for. Two picked Saracens but without their RWC team, they were not that strong.
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