Munster v Gloucester and Toulouse v Leinster headline week two of Champions Cup

Alex Broun 17/10/2018
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Joey Carbery in action for Munster

It’s the second weekend of European Rugby’s glamour tournament, the Champions Cup, with already some matches taking on greater significance.

With only the winners of each pool and the three best second placed teams going through to the knockout stages a couple of bad results can end a team’s European campaign.

So with the stakes rising we picked out four games to watch this weekend:

Munster v Gloucester

Saturday, October 20, 16:00 at Thomond Park, Limerick

Munster surprised many people, even themselves with their fighting 10-10 draw at high-flying Exeter on Match Day 1 and they will be looking to build on that when Johan Ackermann’s side arrive in town.

Gloucester will be very happy with their work on the opening weekend as they ground out a 19-14 victory over Top 14 champions Castres at Kingsholm.

This shapes up very much as a battle of the No10s, with Joey Carbery looking to build on his impressive start in Munster red and Gloucester’s Danny Cipriani trying to elevate himself in Eddie Jones’ pecking order.

Whichever fly-half ends up pulling the strings will decide the result.

Edinburgh v Toulon

Saturday October 20, 18:15 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh

The men from the Scottish capital put in one of the performances of the weekend to push French powerhouse Montpellier right to the wire on Match Day 1.

Coach Richard Cockerill has got his team on an upward curve and its not long till they really deliver.

In comparison the glamour club from the French Riviera are in complete free-fall. With just two wins from seven matches in the Top 14 they sit in lowly twelfth spot.

Big name signing Julian Savea is yet to score a try in seven games and was yellow carded in Toulon’s shock home loss to Newcastle on Match Day 1.

The pressure is already building on new coach Patrice Collazo, who did wonders at La Rochelle, with the trip to Edinburgh shaping up as a must win.

Injury cloud: John Cooney of Ulster

Injury cloud: John Cooney of Ulster

Racing 92 v Ulster

Saturday October 20, 20:30 at Paris La Defense Arena

Racing were made to work very hard for their win in Llanelli but they will have been delighted to come away from Parc y Scarlets with a victory.

Ulster started slowly against Leicester trailing 3-0 at halftime but with a man of the match performance from scrum-half John Cooney the team from Belfast piled on 24 second half points to win 24-10.

But Racing 92, last year’s losing finalists, will be a much greater challenge, especially back home in Paris.

With a dominant forward pack and the silky skills of Finn Russell and Simon Zebo out-wide Ulster will be hard pressed to win this one, especially with an injury cloud over Cooney and his flawless kicking.

Toulouse v Leinster

Sunday October 21, 18:15 at Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Both these teams produced the results of the opening weekend with Leinster putting on a masterclass to slaughter Wasps 52-3 in Dublin while Toulouse pulled off the greatest of escapes to scrape by Bath 22-20 at the Rec, thanks to a hapless Freddie Burns and the quick thinking of Maxime Medard.

Toulouse though will have their hands full this weekend trying to contain the twin threats of Jonny Sexton in close and the peerless James Lowe out-wide.

Lowe was never as highly rated as Julian Savea back in New Zealand, but the former Chiefs finisher has been superb for Leinster with a man of the match performance against Wasps including a staggering 184 run metres, four clean breaks, one try assist and two tries of his own.

To win Toulouse must keep Lowe and Sexton quiet, and Gary Ringrose, and Robbie Henshaw, and Tadgh Furlong, and Sean Cronin, and James Ryan and … You get the idea.

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Gregor Townsend names uncapped trio in Scotland squad for Autumn Tests

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Gregor Townsend has included the uncapped trio of Sam Skinner, Sam Johnson and Blade Thomson in his Scotland squad for the autumn Tests.

Exeter second-rower Skinner is a former England youth international while Scarlets number eight Thomson has represented New Zealand’s Under-20s.

They join Glasgow centre Johnson in the 40-man group named ahead of next month’s clash with Wales in Cardiff and three Murrayfield Tests against Fiji, South Africa and Argentina.

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Bernard Foley re-signs for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs

Alex Broun 17/10/2018
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Bernard Foley has re-signed for the Wallabies

Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley has put pen to paper to re-commit to Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs until the end of 2019.

Fresh from leading the Wallabies to their biggest comeback in Test history last weekend against Argentina, the 29-year old has rebuffed offers from overseas to pursue Rugby World Cup glory in Japan next year.

A veteran of 64 Tests, Foley is the fourth-highest points scorer (593) in Wallabies history and only sits behind Australian Rugby legends Matt Giteau (698 points), Matt Burke (878) and Michael Lynagh (911).

“I’m really happy to re-sign and now focus on pushing ahead to focus on what’s a really big season next year,” said Foley.

“The World Cup is obviously a major carrot and I’ve got a lot of belief in this group that if we continue to work hard and focus on improving every day, then we can push deep into the competition.

“Right now though, I’m just concentrating on a really important run of games coming up. We can’t rest on our laurels and there’s a lot of hunger in the squad to keep improving.

“I’m fully invested in rugby in Australia, at both a national and International level. I feel there is a bit of unfinished business especially after going close at the last World Cup.

“I believe this team has all the ingredients and I’m excited to be part of making it happen,” Foley said.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said: “I’m very happy that Bernard has signed on but I don’t believe this will be his final year in Australian rugby.

“He has set himself a big challenge by going from year-to-year and I’m sure he’ll meet it.

“I know he wants to play to his absolute potential and lead the current group into what is a big 2019 with the World Cup just around the corner. It’s also really important to him to leave a legacy for the next crop and inspire young Australians to wear the gold jersey,” Cheika said.

Foley has starred at all levels of the game in Australia, having won a Commonwealth Games Silver medal for Rugby Sevens at the Delhi Games in 2010 before being named the 2011 Australian Sevens Player of the Year.

Recognition in the 15-man game followed soon after as he made his Shute Shield debut for Sydney University in 2011 before earning his first NSW Waratahs cap later that year against the Blues in Auckland.

The flyhalf led the NSW Waratahs to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2014 before cementing his spot as the Wallabies first-choice number ten in their charge to the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final.

Bernard Foley FACT FILE

Position: Flyhalf

Height: 182cm

Weight: 89kg

Born: 8/09/1989

Super Rugby debut: 2011 v Blues, Auckland

Super Rugby caps: 105

Super Rugby points: 958 (26T, 216C, 132P)

Australia Sevens debut: Dubai 2009

Australia Sevens caps: 13

Australia Sevens points: 197 (29T, 26C)

Test debut: 2013 v Argentina, Rosario

Test caps: 64

Test points: 593 (15T, 118C, 93P, 1DG)

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