The best club games in the Northern Hemisphere are in the ERCC. The heavyweight clashes really seem to matter and the intensity can be close to test level.
Unfortunately the worst games also happen in the competition when one of the teams doesn’t even try. So to get the most out it you need to watch the right games. Here’s my rough guide to doing just that.
First a recap. Leinster and Exeter hold the prized top two slots, with Toulouse just a point behind and with a good run in. Racing and either Ulster or Clermont should also top their groups. The seventh spot should go to either Sarries or Munster in Racing’s group unless both lose to the Parisians. That leaves Saints, Glasgow, Glos and Connaught fighting for eighth, although nearly all the teams theoretically have a chance.
Friday 19.45 Lar v Sale, Bath v Quins. A bunch of also rans. For the truly committed only.
Saturday 13.00 Claremont v Ulster, Ospreys v Sarries. Ulster beat them in Belfast, have been resilient this year and Cooney has been inspired. They will want to top the group for a likely home QF so hopefully they will put up a proper fight. Ospreys won’t.
Saturday 15.15 Glasgow v Exeter, Connaught v Toulouse. The two home teams desperately need the win, while the two away teams need one for a possible “home” semi. Bonus point wins could be gold dust. My advice is to start with the Chiefs, but be prepared to switch over if the Bog Trotters are putting in one of their legendary monumental efforts in Galway.
Saturday 17.30 Glos v Monty. Glos need to win this South African derby but Monty are pretty much out. Ackers will hope that Toulouse won’t need the win next week either.
Sunday 13.00 Saints v Benetton, Leinster v Lyon. Saints have a great run in and maximum points will put them in pole position for 8th. Benetton haven’t been easy beats but with Lyon next Saints have a royal chance to progress for the first time in years.
Sunday 15.15 Racing v Munster. This could be the big one. The French aristocrats have looked a million euros while Munster are perennial semi finalists. Both teams will be desperate to win, with the Irishmen just a point ahead of Sarries and Racing not wanting to need anything from their trip to the Allianz.