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Rugby News All to play for in hunt for European quarter finals
The Saints return to Heineken Cup action on Sunday with a trip to the Ospreys, with a home game against Castres following just five days later.
With Leinster having a trip to Castres and a home clash with the Ospreys there are two massive weekends coming up which will determine the European ambitions of all of the sides in Pool One.
And with all the teams playing at the same times on both weekends no one club will have an advantage over any other in terms of knowing what has to be done.
Going into rounds five and six Leinster headed Pool One with 13 points, with Saints lying second with nine points, Castres in third with eight and the Ospreys in fourth with five points.
This means that should Leinster win in Castres and the Saints lose in Swansea then the pool itself will be decided on Sunday lunchtime. But if Leinster lose and the Saints win then it will all come down to Friday, January 17th!
Given how things are panning out in the other pools, the second-placed team in the Pool One is highly unlikely to qualify for the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup as one of the best placed runners-up.
Nevertheless there will still be a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup knock-out stages at stake. In the four years since Heineken Cup pool runners-up were allowed to qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter finals, three of the latter tournament’s winners have started their European campaigns in the senior competition – Cardiff Blues in 2010, Biarritz in 2012 and Leinster in 2013.
With Harlequins making up the other winners of the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2011, the second European tournament has shown itself to be far from ‘secondary’.
But before any thoughts can start to turn towards the quarter finals of either European competition the concentration has to be on getting wins over the Ospreys and Castres.
And this is where you can help, not least by packing the stands for the visit of the Top 14 champions on Friday, January 17th, the first time a reigning French title holder club has played a competitive game at Franklin’s Gardens in many years.
Tickets for Saints versus Castres are on sale now, so whether you’re on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone just CLICK HERE and follow the straightforward instructions!