With Gloucester Rugby heading to reigning champions Stade Rochelais in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 on April 1, we recall a recent meeting in the competition between the two clubs.

2020/21 Round of 16: Gloucester Rugby 16 Stade Rochelais 27

Stade Rochelais battled through to the quarter-finals after grinding out a victory at Kingsholm two years ago, with Gloucester having offered a stern test.

First-half tries from Dillyn Leyds and Arthur Retière helped La Rochelle on their way, with penalties from Ihaia West (three) and Jules Plisson (two) keeping Gloucester at arm’s length.

Gloucester were only two points adrift at the break after George Barton slotted two penalties and Ruan Ackermann powered over for s try, but they lost Lewis Ludlow to a yellow card early in the second half.

The Gallagher Premiership outfit could only muster one more Barton penalty over the remainder of the game as they exited the Heineken Champions Cup.

Differing fortunes

The two clubs have had contrasting fortunes in the wake of that contest, with Stade Rochelais going on to reach the final that year, although they were defeated 22-17 by Stade Toulousain at Twickenham Stadium.

The next campaign Gloucester failed to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup and endured a bruising 44-15 home defeat to Saracens in the quarter-finals of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Meanwhile, La Rochelle marched to their maiden EPCR crown by beating Leinster Rugby 24-21 in the Heineken Champions Cup final.

Gloucester returned to EPCR’s elite competition this season, beating Union Bordeaux-Bègles twice in Pool A to earn their Round of 16 berth.

However, their task this campaign will be even more challenging than in 2020/21, as La Rochelle earned home advantage with four straight Pool B wins.

Star names on show again

Large swathes of the two starting teams for the 2020/21 clash should feature again at Stade Marcel Deflandre, with 11 of Gloucester’s XV having played already in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

Meanwhile, the visitors are again set to have the likes of hooker George McGuigan, No.8 Albert Tuisue, centre Giorgi Kveseladze and wings Ollie Thorley and Louis Rees-Zammit at their disposal this time around.

McGuigan and Tuisue scored two tries apiece in the pool stage, Kveseladze earned a place in the Round 2 Team of the Week, while Thorley and Rees-Zammit are constant threats out wide.

No.8 Grégory Alldritt is set to have more prominent role for La Rochelle on this occasion. He was on the bench two years ago but has since captained them to Heineken Champions Cup glory and earned a second successive EPCR Player of the Year nomination.

Another key difference for La Rochelle will be at fly-half, with former Section Paloise man Antoine Hastoy the leading points-scorer in this season’s competition after taking over from Ihaia West, who is now at RC Toulon.