Planet Rugby

Heineken Cup the best - Anscombe

15th October 2013 10:41


mark anscombe ulster

Impressed: Mark Anscombe

Ulster boss Mark Anscombe has lauded the Heineken Cup as a competition that affords the opportunity to go up against the best.

The coach points out that the allure of such a prestigious tournament can often entice Southern Hemisphere players to head for Europe.

"Southern hemisphere players come north because of the European competition and the prestige that it has," Anscombe told the Belfast Telegraph.

"That pits them against the best players in the northern hemisphere.

"There are a lot of great players spread out in this competition - from England, France, Wales, Scotland, Italy and, of course, Ireland. It is this competition - this Heineken Cup - that gives all these guys an opportunity to play against one another."

With the future of the tournament under serious threat at present, Anscombe is hoping for a swift resolution among the sport's powers-that-be.

"For the good of the game you hope common sense prevails when decisions are made as to how things are going to go," added Anscombe.

"Because the game is bigger than one owner, or one club, and we've got to remember that.

"Sometimes we lose sight of what it's all about. But when all is said and done you want to perform against the best. You want those tests. That's why we play this game."

The coach recognises the unique tests the Heineken Cup can provide for his players, and the new, higher levels of performance it can help them scale.

"We all like to be comfortable, to have 30 points on the opposition with a quarter of an hour to go so we can relax," stated Anscombe.

"It's not a great feeling when there's only one score in it and the opposition is hard on your goal-line.

"But at the end of the day, everything you remember in sport comes down to how you did against the big guys. If it's an individual sport, you remember that occasion in the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games or the World Cup.

"So maybe, judged alongside those competitions, that meeting in Birmingham or Belfast doesn't mean as much.

"And it's the same with players in rugby. Again it's being on the big stage against the best. They're the games you're going to remember and they're the games that will still be talked about in 10 or 20 years' time.

"Playing on the big stage in Europe challenges us to be able to handle pressure, to sustain pressure, to work hard as individuals, to work for each other, to challenge each other, to be honest in each other's performance and just to keep going for 80 minutes when you've got absolutely nothing left.

"That epitomises this game and that is what this competition requires of us."

  • Champions Cup Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
Saturday , December 6
Sale vs Saracens13:00
Munster vs Clermont Auvergne17:30
Ulster vs Scarlets19:45
Benetton Treviso vs Northampton13:00
Ospreys vs Racing Metro 9215:15
Sunday , December 7
Castres vs Wasps13:00
Harlequins vs Leinster15:15
Leicester vs Toulon17:30
Toulouse vs Glasgow15:15
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Recent Results
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale Sharks
Castres 16 - 21 Leinster
Wasps 16 - 23 Harlequins
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Saturday , October 25
Bath 19 - 21 Toulouse
Montpellier 13 - 15 Glasgow
Ulster 13 - 23 Toulon
Northampton 34 - 6 Ospreys
Scarlets 15 - 3 Leicester
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 Saracens
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Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
2Clermont Auvergne26
4Sale Sharks21
Pool 2
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
Pool 3
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
3Leicester Tigers24
Pool 4
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
1Glasgow Warriors29
Pool 5
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
1Racing Metro Paris28