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Euro Cup bares competitive teeth

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 08:30
Charlie-sharples-gloucester
As they stand ahead of final round
Quote-end

Eighteen European Cup clubs are still in contention for silverware, following a pulsating weekend of Round Five action.

Reigning champions, Toulon, as well as ASM Clermont Auvergne and Munster emerged as winners of Pool Two, Pool Four and Pool Six respectively to seal their places in the last eight of the European Cup - while Ulster, Leicester Tigers and Toulouse are also guaranteed coveted spots in the quarterfinals.

Three-time tournament winners, Leinster, need just one point from their Round Six game against Ospreys at the RDS to top Pool One, while if Saracens manage to see off the challenge of Connacht at Allianz Park next Saturday, they will join Toulouse as qualifiers from Pool Three.

Meanwhile, Northampton Saints are still in the mix to secure their place in the knockout stage of Europe's premier club tournament, but they will probably need to defeat Castres Olympique with a bonus point at Franklin's Gardens in the their final Pool One fixture and hope that Leinster slip up.

With the third, fourth and fifth best European Cup pool runners-up qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Challenge Cup, Northampton are also in contention here along with Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh, Harlequins, Connacht, Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets, Gloucester, Exeter Chiefs and Castres Olympique.

They are in the running to join Bath and London Wasps who have already booked their spots in the Challenge Cup last eight.

With the top four ranked pool winners in the European Cup securing prized home quarterfinals, and with €7-million to be shared in meritocracy payments among the countries of the clubs who qualify for the knockout stages of ERC's tournaments, the stakes are as high as ever as the tension and drama of Round Six approaches.
 
As they stand ahead of Round Six:
(Under headings - Overall position, Pool, Club, Position in pool, Points, Tries scored, Points difference - Q indicates already qualified for play-offs)
1 - Q 5 Ulster 1 22 16 +114
2 - Q 2 Toulon 1 20 15 +59
3 - Q 3 Toulouse 1 19 15 +70
4 - Q 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne 1 19 13 +45
5 - Q 6 Munster 1 18 13 +52
6 - 1 Leinster 1 17 11 +53
7 - Q 5 Leicester Tigers 2 20 15 +50
8 - 3 Saracens 2 15 18 +85
9 - 1 Northampton Saints 2 13 10 -7
10 - 2 Cardiff Blues 2 13 9 -23
11 - 6 Edinburgh 2 12 10 -5
12 - 4 Harlequins 2 12 9 +21
13 - 3 Connacht 3 13 7 +12
14 - 2 Glasgow Warriors 3 10 11 -25
15 - 4 Scarlets 3 10 8 -26
16 - 6 Gloucester 3 9 8 -19
17 - 1 Castres Olympique 3 9 5 -16
18 - 5 Montpellier 3 6 10 -21
19 - 2 Exeter Chiefs 4 8 10 -11
20 - 6 Perpignan 4 7 8 -28
21 - 4 Racing Metro 92 4 7 5 -40
22 - 1 Ospreys 4 5 3 -30
23 - 5 Benetton Treviso 4 0 2 -143
24 - 3 Zebre 4 0 2 -167

How they qualify

Pool winners
(i) The pool winner will be the club with the highest number of match points earned in each pool. The best-placed runners-up will be the two clubs with the highest number of match points out of the six clubs that finish second in their respective pools. For the quarterfinals, the pool winners will be ranked one to six in terms of the number of points earned. The runners-up will be ranked seven and eight.

Note: Runners-up ranked nine, 10 and 11 will qualify for the Challenge Cup quarterfinals

Clubs in the same pool
(ii) if two or more clubs are equal on points and the clubs are in the same pool, then qualification / ranking will be determined by the matches played between the clubs concerned as follows:
(a) the club which has earned the most number of match points from the matches
(b) the club which has scored the most tries in the matches
(c) the club with the best aggregate points difference from the matches

Clubs in different pools
(iii) if still unresolved, or if the clubs have not played each other previously in the pool stage, qualification/ranking will be determined as follows:
(a) the number of tries scored in all pool matches
(b) aggregate points difference from all pool matches
(c) the club with the fewest number of players sent off and/or suspended in all pool matches
(d) drawing lots
Clubs ranked one to four will have home advantage.
The quarterfinals will be: Club one v Club eight; Club two v Club seven; Club three v Club six; Club four v Club five

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