"Final Rematch" - Top 5 Investec Champions Cup Matches to Watch on the Opening Weekend - Ruck

“Final Rematch” – Top 5 Investec Champions Cup Matches to Watch on the Opening Weekend

We are on the cusp of the opening round of the 2023/24 Champions Cup, with the action set to commence with two matches under the Friday night lights. The pinnacle club rugby competition is back for another exciting season, with La Rochelle looking for an unprecedented third consecutive title triumph in the competition.


We are set to experience a case of deja vu, as Ronan O’Gara’s side take on Leinster for a blockbuster opening round match contest. In what is a repeat of the 2022 and 2023 Champions Cup Finals, La Rochelle host Leinster, with revenge firmly on the mind of the Dublin side, after back-to-back finale defeats. The script couldn’t have been written any better for this clash in Pool 4, and it is certainly the marquee match-up in this weekend’s fixture list.

However, there is a grand total of 12 matches to enjoy across this opening weekend of the Investec Champions Cup, and we’ve picked out five enticing fixtures to enjoy from Friday to Sunday. With the hotly contested action set to heat up the winter’s frozen pitches, here are our picks for the Top Five Champions Cup matches, to watch this weekend, live on TNT Sports.


Friday December 8th

Glasgow Warriors vs Northampton Saints Scotstoun Stadium, 20:00 KO

One of the opening matches of the weekend, Northampton Saints make the journey up to Scotstoun Stadium for a battle with Glasgow Warriors. The Scottish side are in fine form within the United Rugby Championship, and currently sit at second in the league. The Warriors have made their home stadium into a definite fortress in recent years, with just one home defeat over the past two seasons. Glasgow will be looking for a hot start to their Champions Cup campaign, after falling at the final hurdle during their last run in Europe.

The Northampton Saints players huddle together after the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs at Franklins Gardens, Northampton on 12 November 2023. – PHOTO: Patrick Khachfe/PPAUK

Glasgow were defeated in the 2022/23 Challenge Cup Final, as Italian legend Sergio Parrise ended his career triumphant with Toulon. The French side recorded a 43-19 win over the Warriors, with Glasgow eyeing up a fast start in this season’s European venture. There is a notable milestone amongst the Warriors squad, as Scotland back-row Matt Fagerson will make his 100th cap for the club. Matt joins his brother Zander Fagerson in becoming a Glaswegian centurion, with the Fagersons becoming the fourth set of brothers to both reach the landmark (Gordon and Allan Bulloch, Richie and Jonny Gray, George and Pete Horne).

Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Franco Smith has made seven changes to his squad, following their away defeat to Munster last Friday. Jamie Bhatti and Zander Fagerson are back to pack down the front row, with Richie Gray returning at lock alongside Sintu Manjezi, who’s set for his Champions Cup debut for the Warriors. Fly Half Tom Jordan is also set for his maiden European appearence for Glasgow, whilst scrum half Sean Kennedy prepares for his first Champions Cup run out for Glasgow since 2012. Max Williamson and Ben Afshar could also make their debut in the competition, as they take a seat on the bench.

Onto the visitors, and Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has also made seven changes to his side. The shuffled deck sees Alex Waller, Curtis Langdon and Paul Hill form a new-look front row, with Tom Lockett packing down the second row for his European debut. Alex Mitchell is back in the Saints nine jersey, and wing George Hendy is also getting ready for his first taste of Champions Cup rugby. With Fin Smith returning at fly half, George Furbank is back in his preferred fullback position. Robbie Smith is back from injury amongst the Saints replacements, whilst Tarek Haffar gets set for his milestone Northampton debut from the bench.


15. Josh McKay 14. Sebastian Cancelliere 13. Huw Jones 12. Stafford McDowall 11. Ollie Smith 10. Tom Jordan 9. Sean Kennedy 1. Jamie Bhatti 2. Johnny Matthews 3. Zander Fagerson 4. Sintu Manjezi 5. Richie Gray 6. Scott Cummings 7. Rory Darge 8. Matt Fagerson


16. George Turner 17. Oli Kebble 18. Lucio Sordoni 19. Max Williamson 20. Ally Miller 21. Sione Vailanu 22. Ben Afshar 23. Ross Thompson


15. George Furbank (c) 14. Ollie Sleightholme 13. Tommy Freeman 12. Fraser Dingwall 11. George Hendy  10. Fin Smith 9. Alex Mitchell 1. Alex Waller 2. Curtis Langdon 3. Paul Hill 4. Tom Lockett 5. Alex Moon 6. Courtney Lawes 7. Angus Scott-Young 8. Sam Graham

16. Robbie Smith 17. Tarek Haffar 18. Trevor Davison 19. Temo Mayanavanua 20. Tom Pearson 21. Tom James 22. Tom Litchfield 23. Tom Seabrook