In which Rory takes a look at the opening weeks of next season’s Heineken Cup fixtures. With Sean Lineen looking to prove his underperforming squad has not been destroyed by further departures, and Michael Bradley looking to make an instant impact at the helm of Edinburgh, it should make an interesting return to high intensity rugby following all the World Cup madness.
Saturday 12 November – London Irish v Edinburgh, Madejski Stadium, Reading, kick-off 1.30pm, Sky Sports. The “Capital Group” kicks off with Joe Ansbro and Ross Samson vs the rest. Tricky but winnable opener.
Sunday 13th November – Glasgow Warriors v Bath Rugby, Firhill, kick-off 2.45pm. Coverage on Sky Sports. A difficult test, and chance for new boys Tommy Seymour and Troy Nathan to show some class and perhaps Ruaridh Jackson to visit his glory, um, day. Glasgow have a real tough group and you suspect it will take some top performances to get anything like a “positive” rating for their campaign.
Friday 18 November – Edinburgh v Racing Metro 92, Murrayfield Stadium, kick-off 8pm. Le French = always tricky to predict. A team with some real class, but might not travel well if we can get a decent crowd there. No word on TV coverage.
Sunday 20 November – Leinster Rugby v Glasgow Warrior, TBC, kick-off 12.45pm. Coverage on Sky Sports. There’s always the chance they rest their top guys against Glasgow but hey folks this ain’t the Rabobank ProDirect Wotsit League 12, so the champions will probably sell out the Aviva (stadium TBC) and administer a schooling in Heineken Cup rugby to our plucky heroes.
Friday 9 December – Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh, Cardiff City Stadium, kick-off 8pm, S4C. A chance to give Dan Parks an early Christmas present, assuming his place in the Cardiff team hasn’t been nicked by a Welsh tyro during the World Cup. Let’s hope we don’t though, eh – this is one Bradley should target for a sneaky away win.
Sunday 11 December – Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier Hérault, Firhill, 12.45pm. Coverage on Sky Sports. Another match on a Sunday, good job Euge is not playing for Glasgow any more. Difficult to know what to expect but you would hope Glasgow can win this at home then go looking for the return leg too.
Friday 16 December – Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues, Murrayfield, kick-off 8pm. Coverage on S4C. Edinburgh might not win the away leg but should definitely be looking at the least to put this one in the bag ahead of the break.
Saturday 17 December – Montpellier Hérault v Glasgow Warriors, Stade Yves du Manoir, 16.40pm. Coverage on FR2 so most likely nowhere else for Glasgow’s first Saturday fixture of the 2011-2012 Heineken Cup. Out of sight, out of mind and entirely possible Glasgow will be looking for one of their French away wins to get them feeling good ahead of the 1872 Cup while everyone else is thinking about Santa.