As the Heineken Cup reaches the sixth rounds there are still a total of 14 clubs who are battling it out for Heineken Cup knockout stage qualification, and/or for the right to play their quarter-final matches at home venues.
Already guaranteed places in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals:
Harlequins, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ulster Rugby, Toulon
In contention for Heineken Cup last eight places, and for qualification for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals:
Biarritz Olympique, Castres Olympique, Leicester Tigers, Leinster Rugby, Montpellier, Munster Rugby, Northampton Saints, Racing Metro 92, Saracens, Toulouse
Here are some additional pointers ahead of this weekend’s decisive games:
- Four quarter-final places are up for grabs
- Pool 3 winners, Harlequins, are the only club to date sure of a home quarter-final
- ERC European ranking points are also at stake throughout the pool and knockout stages. A pool winner is guaranteed four ranking points, and a runner-up three points. Two points are awarded to a club which finishes third, and one point to a club finishing fourth. Tier positions in the 2013/14 Heineken Cup Pool Draw for qualified clubs will be determined by the ranking points system.
A victory for Saracens over Edinburgh Rugby would see them confirmed as pool winners. Munster Rugby have to defeat Racing Metro 92 at Thomond Park and hope that Saracens lose to Edinburgh in order to top the pool. If both Munster and Saracens win, then Munster need results elsewhere to go in their favour if they’re to emerge as one of the two best runners-up. Racing Metro are still mathematically in the equation, but they would need a bonus-point win in Limerick as well a particular set of results elsewhere to secure a best runners-up spot.
All about the mouth-watering Leicester Tigers v Toulouse showdown at Welford Road on Sunday. A win for either of the former Heineken Cup champions would settle the pool. Defeat for Toulouse could still see them in contention for a best runners-up place; defeat for Leicester could leave them in contention for Amlin Challenge Cup qualification at best.
Win, lose or draw at Biarritz on Friday, Harlequins are already guaranteed a home quarter-final. Vying with Clermont and Toulon for the top ranking of the eight qualifiers. A bonus-point win would see them confirmed as number one seeds. A win for Biarritz could put them in contention both for a best runner-up place and for Amlin Challenge Cup qualification.
Already sure of a spot in the last eight, Ulster Rugby go to Castres Olympique in search of a first Heineken Cup win on French soil. Victory could ensure a home quarter-final depending on results elsewhere while defeat would see them on the road in the knockout stage. Northampton Saints travel to Glasgow Warriors in contention for a best runners-up place and for qualification for the Amlin Challenge Cup. Meanwhile, Castres would need a lot of favourable results to book a best runners-up spot, but if they defeat Ulster, the Amlin Challenge Cup is on the radar.
Even a losing bonus point at Scarlets would almost certainly guarantee ASM Clermont Auvergne a home quarter-final at fortress Stade Marcel Michelin. Leinster Rugby go to Exeter Chiefs chasing a best runners-up place. A win is the minimum requirement for the reigning champions, while five points will probably be needed along with favourable results elsewhere.
A losing bonus point at Montpellier will be enough to secure Toulon a home quarter-final, but a home win for Montpellier in Saturday’s all-French clash will vastly change the landscape for the best runners-up places. Maybe the key game of the round.