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Challenge Cup: Toulon, Bordeaux and Castres aim for the last four 

Resumption of European competition directly with the quarterfinals for the three French musketeers. The RCT will have to assume their favorite status, the UBB not lose control for the first playoff game in its history and the CO achieve nothing less than a huge blow.

Toulon, a declared goal

Last season, the RCT made the Challenge Cup, the only trophy missing from its rich showcase, its first objective. With the prospect, moreover, of a disputed final in Marseille. An ambition transcribed into facts with six victories in as many group matches and the number 1 place before these quarter-finals. This guarantees him a semi-final at home and, the EPCR does not exclude it, a possible final at home also, the Vélodrome de Marseille having been postponed to 2021, health crisis requires.

Patrice Collazo sees this competition as an opportunity to break in his team, offer experience to his kids, and make it the launching pad for a season with multiple decisive appointments (Top 14 but also the Champions Cup 2020-2021). First step, this meeting against the Welsh Scarlets and their back-scorer Leigh Halfpenny, old acquaintance on the side of the harbor… So beware. Last winter, during the group match, Llanelli’s “Scarlets” had bowed only extremely narrowly at the Mayol stadium, the Toulonnais only facing their salvation with the transformation after the siren of Anthony Belleau.

Toulon-Scarlets, Saturday at 9:15 p.m.

Bordeaux, to write history

It had to be an event, a big party. The first finals match in UBB history. But the 30,000 spectators hoped for in the spring became, by a prompt discomfort, 1,000 at the end of the summer, a drastic gauge decided at the beginning of the week by the Girondine prefect. The party is spoiled in the stands. It remains to succeed in the field.

And, here too, it is no longer the improvement of six months ago, when the Bordelais regaled, leader of the Top 14 and undefeated in the Challenge Cup (5 wins a draw). The health crisis shattered this momentum. Even caused the postponement of the first match of the season for UBB, against Stade Français Paris. Result? Christophe Urios’ troop comes with only one official match on the clock (a victory painfully acquired at the expense of Brive (25-20) when Edinburgh has already played four times more …

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We will therefore have to throw ourselves into this eliminatory battle with only 80 small minutes of common benchmarks. “It’s special,” confirms scrum half Yann Lesgourgues. Urios relies on the mind to compensate and appeals to the frustration of the end of the season in a fishtail. “This game the only legacy we have from last year with the fall championship title which is not one. It is important anyway. We have been frustrated enough. ” Message received. “These are special matches. We don’t play a lot. And winning this kind of match, we remember it all your life, ”imagines Lesgourgues.

Bordeaux-Edinburgh, Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Castres, condemned to the exploit

It would be a capital performance, unforgettable. A resounding feat. Nothing less. Because Sunday, Kockott and his partners will enter a cage full of wild animals. The Tigers are the hinge of the XV of England (Ben-Youngs, George Ford) and the first line of the XV of England (Ellie Genge, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole). But also a very fierce puma, Tomas Lavanini, in the second row, a cheetah and a winged smilodon, Kini Murimurivalu and Nemani Nadolo, well known in the Top 14.

It will have a human cost because we will certainly leave feathers there. But it’s definitely worth it …

Baptiste Delaporte

To avoid being eaten alive by the big cats of the north of England, Mauricio Reggiardo has lined up his best team. No dead end. The Tarn gladiators will bravely throw themselves into the arena. “It’s a great opportunity, even believes the flanker Baptiste Delaporte in the columns of Olympic noon. The final can come very quickly. You realize, we could win a title before the end of the year and thus qualify for the next Champions Cup! ” So much for crazy dreams. Before the reality of the fight takes over. “It will have a human cost because we will certainly leave feathers there. But it’s really worth it… ”

Leicester-Castres, Sunday at 4 p.m.

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