Thursday, April 4, 2013

If Leinster do manage to win the Amlin Cup, will they add half a star to the jersey?

So the BIG challenge this weekend for Leinster is the Amlin Challenge Cup! After having graciously bowed out of the Heineken Cup to give Ulster and Munster a sporting chance :) , it’s a fresh challenge for Leinster to win a cup they’ve never won, but which is every bit as prestigious as the Heineken Cup.  It’s a major, major cup, like, a really big one. Ok, no it isn’t, and we’d far rather be in the Heineken cup. Will they add a half star to the jersey if we win it? Maybe an asterisk? With a note on the bottom of the jerseys to  explain what it’s for?

Leinster have put out a strong team – performers like Sean O’Brien, Gordon D’Arcy and Fergus McFadden Come back in. We still have issues at lock, but the backline looks much better balanced.  The Wasps team looks decent but not exceptional – I really rate Christian Wade and Joe Launchbury, but player for player we are better on average. They do have home advantage. Wasps are 7th in the premiership and have lost to Saracens Saints Worcester and the Exiles in their last matches. So, I think we’ll do it if we play any rugby at all.

Ulster have a tall order at Saracens. Early on in the season, they had a hard physical game, and a good running game, and the combination propelled them to the top of the Rabo, and into the Heineken Quarters. But this year, things have been a lot mixed. They seem to have rediscovered their physical edge, which they are going to need because Sarries are only bloody massive. If they stand up to Sarries, and play the game out of the range of Owen Farrell’s  boot, they could win this. On recent form though, I think Sarries will bulldoze them.  Hope not.

Munster come into their match against Quins in disarray. Donnacha Ryan, Connor Murray, and maybe Howlett and Zebo will be back. A decent scrum half is a good start. After a battering last week, I don’t know if they can pull it together against Quins, especially away. Having said all that, Quins have lost their last three matches on the bounce. Most people are expecting Quins to take this at a canter, and I think they’ll win, but probably not by much.

In the rest of the matches – I’m going Clermont and Toulon in the HC, and Gloucester,  Toulouse and Bath. Let’s see how I do!

Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 6
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier 15:40
Saracens vs Ulster 18:30
Sunday , April 7
Harlequins vs Munster 14:00
Toulon vs Leicester 17:30
Amlin Challenge Cup
Thursday , April 4
Gloucester vs Biarritz 
Friday , April 5
Perpignan vs Toulouse 20:00
Wasps vs Leinster 20:00
Saturday , April 6
Bath vs Stade Francais 13:00

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