Historic Heineken Champions Cup weekend awaits
The countdown to arguably the most eagerly-anticipated weekend of Heineken Champions Cup rugby for supporters of Scottish rugby is well and truly on.
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors have the chance to occupy two of the last eight spots in the knockout rounds for the first time in history, with at least one of them mathematically guaranteed already.
The Scottish clubs have progressed to the quarters three times before – Edinburgh twice in 2004 and 2012, and Glasgow once in 2017 – but never before have they progressed together.
The opportunity to achieve that presents itself this weekend, as Pool 5 leaders Edinburgh host Vern Cotter’s Montpellier at their BT Murrayfield home on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm) - tickets available here - before Pool 3 runners-up Glasgow Warriors travel to face Saracens the following day (Saturday, kick-off 1pm).
Much is at stake in the capital encounter as a win would not only secure a home quarter-final regardless of results elsewhere (as they would surpass the maximum points available to Pool 2 leaders Munster) but it would also secure Glasgow’s place before a ball is kicked or tackle made in north London, as a consequence of the Scotstoun club’s current points’ haul of 19 being superior to their rivals.
Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “I want to win. I want to have a home quarter final, because we have given ourselves the opportunity to do that so hopefully we’ll have a big crowd at BT Murrayfield when we play.
“We’ve still got a lot to do and we’ve just got to keep improving. We have our plan, we’ll stick to it, we’ve got a good work ethic and we’ll stick to what we do.”
Fail to do that and it could come down to a points battle between the Scottish sides to determine who progresses but at least Glasgow will go into their contest with Saracens knowing exactly what they need from the game.
Any match points would aid their qualification cause regardless of what has happened along the M8 however a famous win would see the group leader decided by the results of the two matches played between the sides, providing they end up on equal pool points (achieved by a Glasgow win with no points for Saracens, or a bonus-point win and a losing-bonus for Saracens).
Should that occur the following rules apply to top the table: (i) the club with the greater number of match points from the two matches (ii) the best aggregate points difference from the two matches (iii) the club that scored the most tries in the two matches.
For the recrord, Saracens defeated Glasgow 13-3 at Scotstoun in the opening round, meaning that a win by 11 points (or 10 points if done so with two more tries than Sarries) would be enough to top the pool.
If, after all that, the ranking remains unresolved, qualification/ranking will be determined by the performances in the pool overall (points difference, tries scored, fewest players suspended).
Understandably then, Glasgow remain focussed on what they can control in preparation for their trip south to face English rugby's standard bearer in the competition.
Head Coach Dave Rennie added: "We’ve got to go down there and embrace it.
"We know there’s a bit of a logjam with the runners-up spots after yesterday’s results, so we know we might need more points.
“Our first objective, though, will be to go down to London and win the group, as it has been from the outset.”