More than 100,000 fans at four atmospheric venues, as well as a global television audience, will be cheering Europe’s elite clubs on to possible glory this weekend with places up for grabs at next month’s landmark Finals weekend in Bilbao.
The Champions Cup semi-finalists boast five titles between them in the tournament recognised around the world as The one to win. Leinster Rugby have three so far in their trophy cabinet and following their impressive triumph over back-to-back champions Saracens, the Scarlets now lie in wait at the Aviva Stadium.
Last season’s Guinness PRO12 winners are on the cusp of a first European Cup final appearance as they take on this season’s number-one ranked club live on Sky Sports tomorrow (15.30 local time) in front of what promises to be another big Dublin attendance.
Like the Scarlets, Racing 92 are looking to become the 12th club to inscribe their name on the trophy when they clash with Munster Rugby in the Champions Cup for the fifth time in two seasons, live on BT Sport on Sunday.
Dan Carter is just one of a number stars of the global game performing on the European stage this weekend and the Racing playmaker is focused on rounding off his time in Paris with the ultimate club trophy.
“I love having history and doing things that no teams have done before,” said the New Zealand legend. “If you look back at Racing 92's history and how rare it is to make a final in Europe, we were lucky enough to do it a couple of years ago, so we'd love to go one step further.”
With one win apiece during this season’s pool stage, the confrontation at Bordeaux's Stade Chaban-Delmas promises to be another classic between the two clubs with twice-winners Munster having won four of their six meetings to date.
Champions Cup semi-final fixture details HERE
Meanwhile, the Aviva Premiership are guaranteed a representative at the Finals weekend in the Basque Country with Gloucester Rugby and Newcastle Falcons kicking off the semi-final action at Kingsholm this evening in the Challenge Cup, live on BT Sport (19.45 local time).
There’s a real rugby buzz in England’s North-East as Newcastle prepares to host European club rugby’s annual festival in 2019 and the Falcons are looking to break new ground by reaching a Challenge Cup final for the first time. Their task is sizeable with Gloucester targeting a third decider in four years, and by lifting the trophy for a third time in Bilbao, the Cherry and Whites would match Harlequins’ record.
Cardiff Blues were the first Welsh club to claim European silverware back in 2010 and recent history appears to favour the region as they host Pau at the Arms Park. Danny Wilson’s side beat their TOP 14 opponents home and away in last season’s pool stage, but 2000 winners, Pau, were ranked number one going into the knockout stage before eliminating holders Stade Français Paris in the quarter-finals.
Challenge Cup semi-final fixture details HERE
There’s a thrilling second leg in prospect at Sportzentrum Süd tomorrow as Heidelberger RK welcome Timisoara Saracens in their Continental Shield play-off. The German club have won three out of three in front of their own fans this season and are looking to overturn a 26-20 deficit from the first meeting in Romania. The winners will face Russian opposition with last season’s winners, Enisei-STM, holding a 47-22 advantage over city rivals Krasny Yar in a repeat of the 2017 final.
Click HERE for more on the Continental Shield