Heineken Cup Preview: Round Six

Going into Round 6, a total of 14 clubs are currently 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 (only club to date sure of a home quarter-final), 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 and Toulouse.

Pool 1
A victory for Saracens over Edinburgh Rugby would see them confirmed as pool winners. Munster 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.

Pool 2
A mouth-watering Leicester Tigers v Toulouse showdown at Welford Road on Sunday will see one of the former champions will decide 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.

Curse of the six-out-of-six

Three clubs, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Harlequins and Toulon, have five wins with one round to go and are on track to join the group of eight clubs who have achieved six wins from six in a Heineken Cup pool stage.

However, no club which was won all six games in the pool stage has ever gone to lift the Heineken Cup in that season.

London Wasps 1997/98 " lost QF
Bath Rugby 2001/02 " lost QF
Leinster Rugby 2002/03 " lost SF
Leinster Rugby 2004/05 " lost QF
Scarlets 2006/07 " lost SF
Biarritz Olympique 2006/07 " lost QF
Cardiff Blues 2008/09 " lost SF
Northampton Saints 2010/11 " lost final Munster Rugby 2011/12 " lost QF

Pool 3
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.

Pool 4
Already sure of a spot in the last eight, Ulster Rugby go to Castres 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.

Pool 5
Even a losing bonus point at Scarlets would almost certainly guarantee ASM Clermont Auvergne a home quarter-final at the fortress that is the Stade Marcel Michelin, while 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.

Pool 6
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 making this one of the key games of the round.