"Unique Challenges" - Bordeaux-Begles vs Harlequins - Champions Cup Quarter Final Preview - Ruck

“Unique Challenges” – Bordeaux-Begles vs Harlequins – Champions Cup Quarter Final Preview

We are getting towards the business end of the 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup, with eight teams set to become four after this exciting weekend of action. Eight of the top sides from across Europe and South Africa are set to battle it out in the coming days, with all eyes on the decorated prize and a place in the Champions Cup history books.

Kicking off the weekend of high-octane Champions Cup action, is a fixture that is sure to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on edge. Harlequins start off the action this weekend, as they take a trip down to Southwestern France with a battle against Bordeaux. The famous quarters are ever the entertainers when they go on tour to France, as their last trip out to the home of Les Bleus saw them rack up an unforgettable 31-28 win over Racing 92.

Try celebrations for Andre Esterhuizen of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Bath at Twickenham Stoop, London on 30 March 2024. Photo: James Whitehead/PPAUK

The party in Paris is best remembered for Marcus Smith’s monstrous drop goal to close out the first half, and the talismanic halfback will be looking to sprinkle his own brand of magic on his next venture out to Bordeaux. The resident entertainers in the Premiership, Harlequins have two league titles to their name, yet have never been able to transfer their exciting brand of fast flowing rugby into a Champions Cup title triumph.

The ‘Big One’ has long alluded Quins, yet the Londoners would like nothing more than to give Andre Esterhuizen a successful send off ahead of his upcoming departure from the Stoop. Harlequins lock Joe Launchbury spoke about the added challenges that a trip to France brings to a fixture.

Joe Launchbury of Harlequins places the ball behind his own touch line during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Gloucester at Twickenham, London on 30 December 2023. Photo: George Beck/PPAUK

“Playing in France brings its own unique challenges, it’s a slightly different crowd to what you’re used to playing in England. They can be a bit more vocal around decisions going for or against their team so that will be something for us to manage. We’re playing in a great stadium, an old style stadium, it will be packed at the weekend, it will be a different challenge for us. I think that’s why you get excited about playing in Europe.”

Like Harlequins, Bordeaux-Begles have never experienced the rush of lifting European silverware high above their heads. A sixth placed finish in last season’s Top 14, Bordeaux cruised into the Champions Cup and topped pool A in fine fashion. Bordeaux racked up convincing wins over Connacht, Bristol Bears and Saracens, with the latter triumph over Mark McCall’s Sarries reigstering the heaviest ever European Cup defeat for the North London giants (55-15).

The French side are blessed with a litany of talents, that have recently been starring for Les Bleus in the 2024 Six Nations. the halfback partnership of Matthieu Jalibert and Maxime Lucu stepped up, in the wake of injured fly half Romain Ntamack and sevens departed Antoine Dupont.

Elsewhere, Louis Bielle-Biarrey poses an electrifying threat from the Bordeaux wing, who will be sure to ask plenty of questions of Stephan Lewies’ defensive organisation. As will powerhouse centre Yoram Moefana, who was recently seen making impact appearances off the bench for Fabien Galthie’s side.

Louis Bielle-Biarrey of France Rugby during the Six Nations Rugby match between Wales and France at Principality Stadium on March 10, 2024 in Cardiff, Wales. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Then throw in the likes of Marcus Smith, Chandler Cunningham-South and Alex Dombrandt to bolster the England international star power, and you have all the ingredients of a classic Champions Cup contest. Expect some daytime firework in Bordeaux, with this fixture set to be a tough one to follow.



15. Romain Buros 14. Pablo Uberti 13. Nicolas Depoortere 12. Yaram Moefana 11. Louis Bielle-Biarrey 10. Mateo Garcia 9. Maxime Lucu 1. Lekso Kaulashvili 2. Maxime Lamothe 3. Ben Tameifuna 4. Cyril Cazeaux 5. Adam Coleman 6. Antoine Miquel 7. Pete Samu 8. Tevita Tatafu

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Clement Maynadier 17. Ugo Boniface 18. Carlu Sadie 19. Kane Douglas 20. Guido Petti 21. Bastien Vergnes-Taillefer 22. Yann Lesgourgues 23. Madosh Tambwe


15. Tyrone Green 14. Louis Lynagh 13. Oscar Beard 12. Andre Esterhuizen 11. Cadan Murley 10. Marcus Smith 9. Will Porter 1. Fin Baxter 2. Jack Walker 3. Will Collier 4. Joe Launchbury 5. Stephan Lewies (Captain) 6. Chandler Cunningham-South 7. Will Evans 8. Alex Dombrandt

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Sam Riley 17. Simon Kerrod 18. Dillon Lewis 19. Irne Herbst 20. George Hammond 21. Max Green 22. Jarrod Evans 23. Luke Northmore

VENUE: Stade Chaban-Delmas, 3pm KO (UK Time)

How to Watch: TNT Sports / beIN Sports / SuperSport / Flo Rugby / France TV