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Champions Cup Crunch Time – What The Irish Provinces Need To Reach Last Eight

Champions Cup Irish Provinces

You might as well dust off the calculators for the weekend ahead as we enter the final round of pool action in this season’s Champions Cup.¬†

The final round always provides excitement and there will be many twists and turns between now and Sunday evening until we learn the final makeup of the quarter-finals.

The Irish sides are all in a position to advance to the knockout stages of this year’s competition and here we take you through what each province needs to do and what results they will wish for elsewhere to help ensure safe passage to the final eight.

Champions Cup Irish Provinces

Leinster

The reigning champions are in the best position of all the Irish provinces as they sit pretty on top of Pool 1 with 20 points.

The face a trip to Coventry to take on Wasps on Sunday and a win there will guarantee them passage to the knockout stages and a home quarter-final. A bonus-point win could put them in line for a home semi-final but only if Saracens lose or if Racing 92 fail to take all five points against Scarlets at the U-Arena.

Munster 

Munster’s sold-out clash with the Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park looks set to be a memorable occasion. For the southern province, it’s pretty simple. Win and they guarantee themselves passage to the quarter-finals. They will also ensure top spot in Pool 2 if they secure a draw or two losing bonus points. They will also top the pool if they secure a losing bonus point while also denying the Chiefs a try-scoring bonus-point.

For a home quarter-final, Munster will need to secure a bonus-point win and also hope that Edinburgh slip up to Montpellier or for Leinster to lose against Wasps.

Ulster

Now it gets difficult. Ulster can still secure top spot in Pool 4 if they beat the Leicester Tigers at Welford Road and Racing 92 fail to get anything out of their clash with the Scarlets. If the French side got a losing bonus point, Ulster would need a winning try-scoring bonus point to top the pool.

As this is unlikely, Ulster’s hope really stands with securing one of the three available best runners up spots.

What the northern province don’t want, is for an upset to occur to one of the current pool leaders such as Edinburgh or Leinster. A loss for Edinburgh or Leinster could see them fall back into the best runners up spots which could prove detrimental to Ulster’s chances.

Dan McFarland’s side are currently second in the running for of the three available best runners up spots but a win against the Tigers in Welford Road should be enough to see them progress as 6th, 7th or 8th seeds due to Racing’s almost inevitable win against the Scarlets.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter