The wait is almost over! Big names, big games, forgotten faces and tomorrow’s heroes await as the European Champions Cup kicks off in Leicester on Friday.
Here are RUCK’s 8 most compelling reasons why you should be looking forward to the latest installment of European club rugby’s most electrifying competition!
1) Watching the best
This stage is where the stars come out to play on a domestic level. With the Rugby World Cup over and the Six Nations months away, the European Champions Cup is the only place for you to see your favourite players go head-to-head.
The star-studded Toulon team is something to admire, dread and enjoy all at the same time. Having the likes of Quade Cooper, Leigh Halfpenny, Bryan Habana and countless more of world rugby’s most prominent stars at their disposal makes the side from the south coast of France the favourites heading into the competition as they aim to win their fourth consecutive title.
Following on from a highly exciting and often unpredictable Rugby World Cup where Japan defied all the odds to overcome two-time world champions South Africa, you can presume there to be some breathtaking contests throughout this year’s installment of the European Champions Cup.
4) Manageable size
With only 20 teams taking part in the competition, it is relatively easy to follow, unlike the football equivalent that seems to have endless qualifiers before far too many groups with far too many teams of uneven ability. Basically, it is better so watch it!
5) A cracking open game
We’ve seen some crackers in the competition down the years, with last season’s Final, where Toulon overcame Clermont 24-18, being the latest in a long line of exciting games. Tries are virtually guaranteed in every game you watch!
6) It’s not football – no place on the pitch for cry babies
The simple fact of the matter is many things make rugby union the far better sport. Firstly, the professional attitude of the players in rugby, compared to the overpaid prima donnas in football, is impeccable. There is also very rarely any players feigning injury or abusing the referee, which makes for much more pleasant viewing.
7) Referees – Particularly Nigel Owens
One of the most enjoyable parts of watching rugby on television is the often charismatic officials. Unlike in a lot of sports the referees in rugby are required to wear microphones, which allows viewers at home to hear their interactions with the players and their fellow officials. It certainly earns them more respect
8) The Trophy – It is a beauty
The European Rugby Champions Cup ‘Star Cup’ concept places the gold star – symbol of Europe and European representation – at the very heart of the design. The trophy made its debut in last year’s final and If you didn’t notice it’s an absolute beauty.