A rerun of last season’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final between Stade Toulousain and ASM Clermont Auvergne in the TOP 14 looks to be the standout game in a packed weekend of domestic rugby.
Toulouse came out on top back in April, triumphing 21-12 at Clermont’s Stade Marcel-Michelin on route to claiming a record fifth European title.
On Sunday evening, Toulouse will welcome Clermont to the Stade Ernest Wallon as they seek a fourth straight win at the start of the TOP 14 season.
Saturday sees several European heavyweights in action, with 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners Exeter Chiefs hosting Northampton Saints at Sandy Park in an intriguing Gallagher Premiership match-up.
Chiefs have made a few changes to the side beaten by last season’s Challenge Cup finalists, Leicester Tigers, last weekend – Facundo Cordero replacing the injured Jack Nowell on the wing and Jack Yeandle returning to captain the side from hooker.
Northampton have brought wing Ollie Sleightholme and hooker Sam Matavesi back into the starting XV, while Matt Proctor starts at outside centre with Fraser Dingwall inside him. Fiji scrum-half Frank Lomani could make his Saints debut from the bench.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) September 23, 2021
Meanwhile, four-time European champions Leinster Rugby take on South African side Bulls at the Aviva Stadium in their opening United Rugby Championship game of the season.
Captain Johnny Sexton starts at fly-half, forming an experienced half-back partnership with Luke McGrath, while Hugo Keenan, Rory O’Loughlin and James Lowe make up the back three.
Prop Andrew Porter makes his first Leinster start since 2016, while Michael Ala’alatoa is handed his competitive debut in the front row.
Two-time Heineken Cup winners Munster also face South African opponents in the United Rugby Championship, welcoming Sharks to Thomond Park.
Simon Zebo starts on the wing for Munster after his summer move from Racing 92, while lock RG Snyman – a World Cup winner with South Africa – could make his debut from the bench.
Elsewhere on Saturday, last season’s Heineken Champions Cup finalists, Stade Rochelais, host Biarritz Olympique in the TOP 14, while 2020 runners-up Racing 92 are at home against Lyon.