European Rugby Champions Cup 2016-2017 Round 1 Predictions

It’s so close I can taste it! The big European club competition is back and I can’t wait. Here are my round 1 Champions Cup predictions.

First here is a link to my pool by pool Champions Cup preview.

This season I’ll be doing short 1 Line Predictions videos on Twitter & YouTube and using these posts to give you the full reasons behind my picks.

Glasgow Warriors v Leicester Tigers

Glasgow have been threatening to do some damage in Europe for a while now. With this being Townsend’s last season maybe this is when they will do it. They have started well but been hampered by injuries amongst their forwards. Tigers have been a bit up and down this season but still sit at the right end of the table. Their defence has been the area of concern and Glasgow aren’t the kind of side you want to face in that situation. It will depend on who Glasgow can get on the pitch but I think they should take this 1.

Glasgow Warriors by 7

Wasps v Zebre

Simply this will be a TBP win for Wasps and it’s only a matter of how many points can they rack up.

Wasps by 20

Leinster v Castres

whilst not as clear-cut as the previous game this 1 have home win all over it. Leinster are top of the Pro12 and going well. Castres are towards the wrong end of the Top14 and that will be their priority. So expect “rotation” from Castres as they rest players for the Top14 games to come on this away trip.

Leinster by 10

Toulon v Saracens

It’s because of these kind of encounters that we love this competition. These sides are more used to meeting each other at the sharp end of the competition. I’ve forgotten how often in semi-finals and finals these 2 have faced each other recently but it feels fairly frequent. Over the last couple of games though Saracens have looked to have the measure of Toulon. Also Toulon have started the season relatively slowly and so I’m going for an important away win for the reigning Champions.

Saracens by 5

Connacht Rugby v Toulouse

I was so looking forward to seeing what Connacht could do in this competition after their Pro12 victory. Unfortunately they have not managed to carry that form into this season. They did get a good win over Ulster last weekend but apart from that there has been no sign of them doing well. Toulouse have have their ups and downs as well but this is a competition that they raise themselves for. So I think we will be seeing an away victory here.

Toulouse by 5

Northampton Saints v Montpellier

2 sides that will try to use power over finesse. In that battle I think that the Top14 big spenders will win out. Let’s be honest as much as we might not enjoy Jake White’s style it does bring success and so I think the Challenge Cup champions will get their Champions Cup campaign off to a wining start.

Montpellier by 3

Scarlets v Sale Sharks

Because of their pool these 2 sides are making up the numbers this year. Scarlets, like Connacht, have had a poor start to the season after their fairy tale last time round. Sale have been a bit up and down but generally the normal strong at home and not so great on their travels. However they have been better than Scarlets and they would like to prove they aren’t a lucky top 6 side so expect them to give this competition a good shot.

Sale Sharks by 5

Bordeaux Begles v Ulster

Bordeaux are a decent side and sit towards the right end of the Top14 table. But I think that table will be their priority. However as with all French sides they will put up a stiff fight at home. Ulster I have expected to go well in Europe for a few years now and they keep letting me down. I’m expecting that trend to continue despite their good Pro12 form that has seen them only lose once.

Bordeaux Begles by 5

Racing Metro 92 v Munster

Racing have had a poor start to the Top14 and sit in mid-table. That’s not helped by some off-field issues around the use of drugs without a TUE that’s been in the media recently. Munster have started the seasons well even if there have been a couple of hiccups along the way. They will be looking for a vital way win here but I think that Racing’s big game players will step up for this big game.

Racing Metro 92 by 10

Exeter Chiefs v Clermont Auvergne

These 2 sides seem to meet each other every year in this competition! Last season Exeter sneaked into the quarter finals denying Clermont a spot in the process. This season though Exeter haven’t yet hit top form and are still figuring out how to fit in their new players best. Clermont on the other hand are top of the Top14 table with only 1 loss. I think we are looking at one of the European heavy weights exacting revenge for last season here.

Clermont Auvergne by 5

This season I’m on the Rugby Warp Up expert panel for the Champions Cup, see what my fellow experts predict.

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