Why only one English club will reach Champions Cup knockout stage
Will Greenwood believes Europe’s elite competition is so tough that most Premiership sides will fail to make the last eight
Two English teams creates extra excitement, with the odds of an English qualifier doubled.
Wasps and Quins have already met and Wasps had their domestic unbeaten record dented at the Ricoh, which may give Quins hope of a surprise way out from this pool. Quins are experts in the Challenge Cup but the European Cup has always been a tough expedition. I still have Wasps as favourites of the two English teams to qualify.
The big unknowns are La Rochelle, the “French Exeter”. They are unfancied, yet boast amazing home support, incredible noise, and are rarely castled on the west coast of France. At the start of the season, I thought their novice tag would rule out their chances of navigating this pool. I gave them no chance of surviving the away trips.
But that was then, this is now and I have called them as surprise group winners. Victor Vito (below) is immense at eight. Kevin Gourdon (above), a special player alongside him in the back row. These guys run it from anywhere. They are like Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle, happy to let you score three because they will get four.
Ulster v Wasps in Belfast could be a crunch game. I always enjoy the Belfast trips as a fan, away teams enjoy them less. Even so,
Ulster’s failure to fire consistently continues to hurt them.