The two most successful clubs in European rugby history go head-to-head with Pool 1 supremacy and eventual qualification for the knockout stage of the Heineken Champions Cup on the line as Leinster Rugby entertain fellow four-time tournament winners, Toulouse, at the RDS on Saturday.
The sell-out confrontation will be shown live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and Ireland with additional live free-to-air coverage on Virgin Media (Ireland) and Channel 4 (UK). Both beIN SPORTS and France Télévisions are also taking the match live as Toulouse look to preserve their unbeaten record this season.
A win against the holders would not only give the TOP 14 club a clean sweep of away wins in the pool, but by denying Leinster two losing bonus points, Toulouse would also book a place in the quarter-finals for the 17th time.
The contenders on the Road to Newcastle will be defined over the concluding two rounds and next May’s Finals weekend at St James’ Park has proved incredibly popular with rugby fans across the world.
Owing to high demand, there are no tickets currently available on public sale for the Heineken Champions Cup final although a limited number may become available when allocations held for supporters of the two finalist clubs are assessed later in the season. Fans are advised to check HeinekenChampionsCup.com for updates.
Other Round 5 highlights this weekend include:
- A mere four points cover the four clubs in Pool 2, meaning Gloucester Rugby could cause a massive shift in the balance of power if they manage to defeat Munster Rugby at a sold-out Kingsholm on Friday evening. Gallagher Premiership front-runners, Exeter Chiefs, and French champions, Castres Olympique, are both waiting to pounce on any slip-up from Munster when they clash at Sandy Park on Sunday.
- Both Scottish clubs hold their destiny in their own hands heading into the last two weekends. Glasgow Warriors welcome the Cardiff Blues to Scotstoun looking to strengthen their position in Pool 3 where they are currently four points behind Saracens, whilst in-form Edinburgh Rugby are perched at the top of Pool 5 as they head to RC Toulon on Saturday evening.
- Mako Vunipola is set to make his 50th tournament appearance if selected for Saracens’ visit to Lyon while Jonathan Davies will reach the same milestone if included in the Scarlets match day squad against Leicester Tigers.
- Unbeaten Racing 92 will secure a place in the knockout stage for the fourth time in five seasons if they win away against Ulster Rugby on Saturday. The Pool 4 pacesetters will have their work cut out though as the Irish province are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1999 European Cup triumph which came on the back of victories against French opposition in the guise of Toulouse, Stade Français Paris and then in the final against Colomiers who included current Racing 92 Joint Head Coach Laurent Labit in their line-up.
The Challenge Cup also features some make-or-break fixtures this weekend as the pools continue to take shape. Chief among the heavyweight battles will be the match that closes the round at Stade Marcel-Michelin where ASM Clermont Auvergne put their 100% record on the line when they face Northampton Saints, another former tournament winner.
Among other weekend highlights in the Challenge Cup:
- Two direct clashes between Gallagher Premiership and Guinness PRO14 clubs will shape Pools 2 and 3. Ospreys front up to Pool 2 leaders, Worcester Warriors, in Swansea two points behind their English opponents whilst twice-winners Sale Sharks take a three-point cushion to The Sportsground as they face nearest challengers Connacht Rugby.
- There’s a fascinating scrap to qualify from Pool 5 where all four clubs are separated by only two points with two wins and two defeats each to date. Benetton Rugby play host to Agen and current leaders Harlequins meet Grenoble.
- Likewise, there’s little margin for error in Pool 4 where three clubs remain in contention with back-to-back fixtures to close out the section. La Rochelle and Zebre Rugby Club each traded home wins three seasons ago when they last met in the Challenge Cup. The first of their encounters is tomorrow evening at Stade Marcel Deflandre and if history repeats itself, that could allow Bristol Bears to profit as they embark on a double-header with Enisei-STM.
More than 17,000 tickets have already been sold for the Challenge Cup showpiece in Newcastle on Friday, 10 May and fans are urged to secure their places through the official website.