Three fixtures to savour
Saracens v Clermont (December 10)
Hard not to look for this fixture immediately, given it is a repeat of last season’s final. Then, we’re treated to the return leg a week later. The Dec 10 and Dec 17 clashes promise to be huge, with Saracens and Clermont fully aware they could end their opponents’ chance of reaching the knockout stage. Saracens bid to become only the second team to do three in a row, while the French side have three runners-up ‘honours’ to their name and are desperate to lift the trophy. Glasgow v Montpellier (December 8).
It’d be easy to pick Leinster’s first game up, but the Scots are the in-form side in the PRO14 a n d t a k i n g o n M o n t p e l l ie r could be quite a sight to behold. Dave Rennie has had an instant impact since joining from the Chiefs in the summer, and it looks like the loss of Gregor Townsend to the national team has hardly been noticed. They possess a solid attack, and some huge men up front, while the open style of play could lead to a heck of a game against the big-spending French side.
Munster v Racing 92 (October 21)
Almost a year to the day since Munster defeated Glasgow in an emotion-packed Thomond Park, 24 hours after Anthony Foley was laid to rest, they welcome Ronan O’gara and Racing 92 to Limerick. This Sunday’s game in Castres will give us an indication of how Munster are looking after some mixed displays so far, but the visit of Racing to Thomond will tell us even more.
O’gara was given control of the team when they played the same fixture last season, and lost, and he will be determined to make more of an impact this time around.
Munster look vulnerable — but we said that last year too.
— Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh