Irish sides get into gear for European Competition



With less than two weeks until the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup, Ireland’s top two sides locked horns at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening; with Munster romping home to an emphatic win.

The Red Army can be very optimistic of their chances in Europe this season following their dominating 34-23 victory in what was a first win over their bitter rivals at the Aviva.

Munster are set to take on French powerhouses ASM Clermont, and English sides Saracens and Sale Sharks with rookie head coach Anthony “Axel” Foley remained cautiously optimistic, “To win the competition, you have to accumulate enough points to get out of your group. We know you don’t start talking about winning this competition until you’re in a final. It’s about getting there.”

Leinster on the other hand have to be concerned after a lifeless performance, as Matt O’Connor’s outfit rarely matched the aggression and appetite for the game shown by Foley’s charges. Further concern for the Blue Army is a growing injury list, as Fergus McFadden joined long-term absentees Sean O’Brien and Cian Healy on the treatment table.

Just like their rivals Leinster have also been drawn into a difficult pool with French side Castres and English sides Wasps and Harlequins. With a reduction of teams from 24 to 20 easy groups within the new competition should be a thing of the past.

Something that should suit both these sides who have found easy groups hard to come by the last few years, unlike Ulster whose run of easy groups has emphatically ended as they have drawn champions Toulon, Scarlets and Leicester Tigers.

Unfortunately with the restructured tournament Connacht won’t compete in the top tier this season, instead they will take part in the Challenge Cup this year. As the fourth tier Irish side they are unlikely to get a chance to achieve fairytale wins in the new structure such as those over Harlequins, Biarritz and perhaps the biggest shock in Heineken Cup history victory over Toulouse

Photo: Whoelse 

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