Home » Sport » Pool by pool guide to the 2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup – can Saracens topple Leinster and lift their third title in four years?

Pool by pool guide to the 2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup – can Saracens topple Leinster and lift their third title in four years?

The winners of five pools plus three best runners-up reach the knockout stages — SunSport’s JONNY FORDHAM goes through the runners ‘n riders . . .

STUART LANCASTER'S Leinster are the boys to beat as they are red-hot favourites to grab back-to-back crowns.

Fallen English giants Wasps and Bath will be hoping to cause an upset somewhere along the way, though will struggle to finish top for an easy qualification route.

BATH
Boss: Todd Blackadder
Best finish: Champions (1998)

Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Joe Cokanasiga

LEINSTER
Boss: Stuart Lancaster/ Leo Cullen
Best finish: Champions (2009, 2011, 2012, 2018)

Last season: Winners
One to watch: James Lowe

TOULOUSE
Boss: Ugo Mola
Best finish: Champions (1996, 2003, 2005, 2010)
Last season: Not involved
One to watch: Jerome Kaino

WASPS
Boss: Dai Young
Best finish: Champions (2004, 2007)
Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Lima Sopoaga

EXETER CHIEFS and Gloucester are the other two Premiership sides drawn together.

But they will be worrying about how to cope with France champions Castres and two-times winners Munster more than each other.

CASTRES
Boss: Christophe Urios
Best finish: Semi-finals (2002)
Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Scott Spedding

EXETER CHIEFS
Boss: Rob Baxter

Best finish: Quarter-finals (2016)
Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Henry Slade

GLOUCESTER
Boss: Johan Ackermann
Best finish: Semi-finals (2001)

Last season: Not involved
One to watch: Danny Cipriani

MUNSTER
Boss: Johann van Grann
Best finish: Champions (2006, 2008)
Last season: Semi-finals
One to watch: Joey Carbery

DID YOU KNOW?

• This season’s Heineken Champions Cup clubs have 28 European titles between them with Leinster leading the way on five – Saracens have three.
• Munster have made the most tournament appearances with 166 (114 wins, 2 draws and 50 losses).
• Newcastle Falcons are back in Europe’s top flight for the first time since 2005.
• Montpellier’s Nemani Nadolo was last season’s joint top try scorer with six.

• On the back of Leinster’s record-equalling victory in Bilbao, Ireland now have the most individual tournament winners with 94 players, followed by England on 93 and France with 81.
• Saracens’ Owen Farrell (pictured) has been the tournament’s leading points scorer for the past four seasons.
• Lyon will be competing in the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time
• Out of this season's players, Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens has made the most appearances with 79 (Saracens 55, Sale Sharks 24).
• The 2018 EPCR European Player of the Year, Leone Nakarawa of Racing 92, was the only player to play every minute (720) of last season’s tournament.
• All four clubs in Pool 1 – Leinster, Wasps, Bath Rugby and Toulouse – are previous winners
• Leinster last season, and Saracens in 2015/16, are the only clubs to have won all nine tournament matches in the same season.
• When Wasps were last in a pool with Leinster in 2015/16, they won both home and away games.

SARACENS have avoided a group-of-death this time and will be confident of sailing through to the knock-out stages.

Cardiff will be flying high after winning the Challenge Cup and ambitious Lyon have Englishman Carl Fearns in their monstrous pack.

CARDIFF BLUES
Boss: John Mulvihill
Best finish: Runners-up (1996)
Last season: Not involved
One to watch: Olly Robinson

GLASGOW WARRIORS
Boss: Dave Rennie
Best finish: Quarter-finals (2017)

Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Stuart Hogg

LYON
Boss: Pierre Mignoni
Best finish: This is their debut season
One to watch: Carl Fearns

SARACENS
Boss: Mark McCall
Best finish: Champions (2016, 2017)
Last season: Quarter-finals
One to watch: Liam Williams

LEICESTER TIGERS' European glory years are long gone – but they will look to tap into the romance of the Martin Johnson double-winning era to kick-start modern-day history.

The Scarlets lit-up the tournament last year and in Paris Scotland magician Finn Russell will most like do the same with Racing 92.

LEICESTER TIGERS
Boss: Geordan Murphy
Best finish: Champions (2001, 2002)

Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Manu Tuilagi

RACING 92
Boss: Yannick Nyanga
Best finish: Runners-up (2016, 2018)
Last season: Runners-up
One to watch: Finn Russell

SCARLETS
Boss: Wayne Pivac
Best finish: Semi-finals (2000, 2002, 2007, 2018)
Last season: Semi-finalists
One to watch: Jonathan Davies

ULSTER
Boss: Dan McFarland
Best finish: Champions (1999)
Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Jacob Stockdale

 

NEWCASTLE FALCONS' return is a huge boost for the city that will host the 2019 final.

Mega-rich Montpelier will likely boss this group with Toulon's scalp up there after the three-times winners struggles in trying to get a squad full of global superstars play like a team.

EDINBURGH

Boss: Richard Cockerill
Best finish: Semi-finals (2012)

Last season: Not involved

One to watch: Hamish Watson

MONTPELLIER
Boss: Vern Cotter
Best finish: Quarter-finals (2013)
Last season: Pool stages
One to watch: Nemani Nadolo

NEWCASTLE FALCONS

Boss: Dean Richards

Best finish: Quarter-finals (2005)

Last season: Not involved

One to watch: Sinoti Sinoti

TOULON
Boss: Patrice Collazo
Best finish: Champions (2013, 2014, 2015)
Last season: Quarter-finals
One to watch: Julian Savea

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