Europe: Pool by pool
CHAMPIONS CUP SPOTLIGHT: As the Champions Cup takes centre stage again this weekend, we look at what’s at stake in each pool.
Leinster, Exeter Chiefs, Ulster and Toulouse all have four wins to date. Racing 92, who top a highly-competitive Pool 4, are unbeaten with three wins and a draw.
Leinster made Champions Cup history by qualifying for the knock-out stage with two rounds of pool matches remaining, and the four-time champions are now on track to secure a home quarter-final.
Northampton Saints on nine points still have a chance to join them despite having just two wins from four in Pool 1.
Northampton Saints’ Dan Biggar, this season’s top scorer with 57 points, has a 95 percent place-kicking success rate with 20 kicks on target (12 penalties, 8 conversions) from 21 attempts.
Josh van der Flier of Leinster is the top tackler to date with 73 from his four matches, and only one missed attempt. Leinster’s Garry Ringrose is the leading try scorer with 6 following his hat-trick against Northampton Saints in Round 4, to add to his treble against Benetton in Round 1.
Exeter is one of four clubs with a 100 percent win rate in the Champions Cup this season, along with Leinster, Ulster and Toulouse. The Chiefs’ current four-game winning run is their best in Europe’s top flight.
If Exeter manages to continue that run, they will be guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals for the second time in their history. The Chiefs have won their last two away games and are aiming to win three in a row on the road for the first time in European competition.
This will be the sixth meeting between Glasgow and Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup. The Warriors have won three of the previous five clashes, including both home games.
Glasgow has won nine of their last 11 home games against Gallagher Premiership opposition, with only Saracens and Northampton Saints managing to win at Scotstoun in that spell.
Both Ulster and ASM Clermont Auvergne remain in contention to qualify as winners of Pool Three, on 17 points and 16 points respectively, although neither can officially do it this weekend.
Clermont and Ulster have met five times previously in the Champions Cup, with each game won by the home side on the day.
Clermont has won 30 of their last 31 home pool games in the Champions Cup (lost one v Bordeaux-Bègles). Meanwhile, the Ulstermen have won four of their last five away games in the tournament, more than they’d won in their previous 13 games on the road.
The French side is the top points scorers (152) this season, with the joint-most tries (20, level with Leinster).
Ulster is the only side yet to concede a try in the opening 20 minutes this season, however, no one has scored more than Clermont in the opening quarter of their fixtures (6, level with Leinster).
Clermont and Ulster are two of just four clubs yet to be shown a card of any colour to date, along with Lyon and Toulouse.
Racing 92 who host Munster are guaranteed to join Leinster in the quarter-finals if they win their match in Round 5.
Munster lie in second with 11, with Saracens just one point behind them in third.
The Racing 92 pair of Teddy Thomas and Juan Imhoff lead the clean breaks category with 12 and 11 respectively.
Saracens’ Richard Wigglesworth will make his 90th tournament appearance if selected for Saturday’s match against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. The three-time Champions Cup winner has made 65 appearances for Saracens and 24 for Sale Sharks.
Toulouse who travel to Connacht, are guaranteed to join Leinster in the quarter-finals if they win their Round 5 match against the men from the west.
Remarkably Gloucester, who are still in the hunt for qualification from Pool 5 despite registering just one win, have the most bonus points to date with five.
Gloucester is in second in the pool on 9 points, with Connacht third on eight.
Ellis Genge spoke to the Pod over the festive period in a brilliantly candid call. He spoke to Jim Hamilton and Andy Goode about his contract negotiations at Leicester Tigers and the way that he deals with scrutiny on Twitter.