Wednesday, November 13, 2019

EPCRugby - Champions and Challenge Cups begin pool play

EPCRugby - Champions and Challenge Divisions

·         five, four-club pools in home-away contests within the pool from mid-November through third weekend in January to determine the eight-team playoffs frame (pool winners plus next best three); first playoff round on April 3-5; semis May 1-3; Grand Final on May 23, Stade de Marseille.
·         the competition is separated into two levels called champions and challenge, each of 20 clubs, comprised of teams from: Gallagher Premiership (England); Guinness Pro14 (Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales); and the Top 14 (France), as well as an Italian Top12 side and a Russian Premiership team.
·         40 clubs from three leagues (minus the pair of SA clubs, Cheetahs and SoKings, but with the addition of Cammi Calvisano of the Italian Top12 and Enisei-STM who hail from the Yenisei River town of Krasnoyarsk*

Pools, Placements and Performance to date - Champions Cup ClubSides

Pool 1: Benetton Treviso (Italy), Leinster (Ireland), Lyon (France), Northampton Saints (England)

Pool 2: Exeter Chiefs (England), Glasgow Warriors (Scotland), La Rochelle (France), Sale Sharks (England)

Pool 3: Clermont Auvergne (France), Bath Rugby (England), Harlequins (England), Ulster (Ireland)

Pool 4:  Munster (Ireland), Ospreys (Wales), Racing 92 (France), Saracens (England)

Pool 5: Connacht (Ireland), Gloucester (England), Montpellier (France), Toulouse (France)

- their leagues and present positions at their respective tables:
                Pool 1: petite Bassin de le Mort
                                Benetton Treviso are in Group B of the Guinness Pro14 and are in 5th place out of 7; 
                                Leinster are reigning GP14 champs, first in Group A and undefeated;
                                Lyon currently head the Top 14 chart (also called French 14 or Orange 14);
                                Northampton Saints are runners-up in Premiership just now, level on table points with its leader
                Pool 2:
                                Exeter Chiefs are now 6th-of-12 in Premiership
                                Glasgow Warriors, 4th in Group A of GPro14
                                La Rochelle, 9th in T14
                                Sale Sharks are 4th in Premiership

                Pool 3:
                                Clermont Auvergne is 6th at T14 Table
                                Bath sit 9th-of-12 on the Premiership chart
                                Harlequins are 10th-of-12 in Premiership
                                Ulster are rocking 2nd place in Group A of GPro14

                Pool 4Bassin de la Mort
                                Munster are 1st in Group B of GPro14;
                                Ospreys, 6th in Group A, seek answers to many questions now;
                                Racing 92, 10th in T14, but making movies after RWC season;
                                Saracens are 3rd in the Premiership, though they won the European Double last season

                 Pool 5:
                                Connacht are 4th in Group B of GPro14;
                                Gloucester rank 5th in Premiership;
                                Montpellier sit 7th in T14;
                                Toulouse are 8th in T14, but claimed the 2019 T14 title

Upcoming the Weekend:

Friday, November 15
     Gloucester v Toulouse at Kingsholm

Saturday, November 16
     Bath v Ulster at the Rec;
     Glasgow v Sale at Scotstoun;
     La Rochelle v Exeter at Marcel Deflandre;
     Leinster v Benetton at the RDS;
     Clermont v Harlequins at Marcel Michelin;
     Ospreys v Munster at Liberty Stadium

Sunday, November 17
     Connacht v Montpellier at the Sportsground;
     Northampton v Lyon at Franklin's Gardens;
     Racing 92 v Saracens at La Défense


Pools, Placements and Performance to date - Challenge Cup ClubSides

                Pool 1:
                                Castres Olympique (France), 11th-of-14 in T14, though they’re typically late starters;
                                Dragons (Wales), rank 5th-of-7 in Group A of the GPro14;
                                Enisei STM* (Russia), are the Park City Haggis of the global game, traveling great distances for a match; unlike Haggis, they are decided underdogs in their pool and thus are the XV of the Heart; Enisei won the Russian Premiership at the beginning of this month;
                                Worcester Warriors (England), are 8th-of-12 in the Premiership

                Pool 2: Bassin de la Mort
                                Bayonne (France), sit pretty in 4th at the T14 table;
                                London Irish (England), promoted this season, now 7-of-12 in England;   
                                Toulon (France), are 5-of-12 on the T14 now;
                                Scarlets (Wales), place 2nd in Group B of the GPro14 right now

                Pool 3:
                                Agen (France), are in a relegation station at 13-of-14 in France;
                                Bordeaux Bégles (France), at 2nd in T14 and looking strong;
                                Edinburgh (Scotland), are 3rd in Group B of GPro14;
                                Wasps (England), are 11th-of-12 in England

                Pool 4:
                                Bristol Bears (England), are very much a refreshing surprise in the ordering seat in England now-now;
                                Brive (France), sit 12th in France, not far from boot displacement;
                                Stade Français (France), a shock in the far corner of the Gaullist dungeon, one might think;
                                Zebre (Italy), lay last in GPro14’s Group A

                Pool 5:
                                Leicester Tigers (England), languish at the bottom of the cellar stairs in the English competition just now;
                                Cardiff Blues (Wales), are 6th-of-7 in GPro14’ Group B;
                                Section Paloise (France), aka Pau, are kinda streaking just now and show 3rd in France;
                                Rugby Calvisano (Italy), are currently 5th in the premier Italian league, Top 12, though the club from Italy’s rugby north sit only 3 table points from the leader’s chair; another decided underdog, and that’s why they’re our number 2!

Upcoming the Weekend:

Friday, November 15:
     Enisei-STM v Worcester Warriors at Kuban Stadium, Krasnodar;
     Agen v Edinburgh at Stade Armandie;
     Stade  Français v Brive at Jean Bouin;
     Bayonne v Toulon at Stade Jean-Dauger

Saturday, November 16:
     Calvisano v Cardiff at Pata Stadium, Calvisano;
     Dragons v Castres at Rodney Parade;
     Leicester v Pau at Welford Road;
     Bristol v Zebre at Ashton Gate;
     Scarlets v London Irish at Parc y Scarlets;
     Bordeaux Bègles v Wasps at Chaban-Delmas;

Small World?

* Enisei are the first Russian club ever to play in a major European rugby tournament (EPCRugby Challenge Cup-2015). The city they call home, Krasnoyarsk, is in Siberia, nearly 2,500 miles (4,000 kms) east of Moscow, or more than the distance from San Diego, California to Charleston, South Carolina. Enisei will contest Pool 1 where their nearest competition in the group is 3,500 miles (5,600 kms) to the west and that’s almost six hours chasing the sun. 

However, it should be noted that Enisei will be playing their home games in Krasnodar on the Black Sea, a mere 1,800 or so miles from their closest group competition, but closer actually to their competition than they are to their home town of Krasnoyarsk, by nearly 600 miles.  

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