There are six Champions Cup games scheduled to take place on Saturday with Lyon, Benetton, Ulster, Harlequins, Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs hosting their respective European fixtures.
Lyon v Northampton Saints
Lyon have recalled several first-team regulars as they look to sign off from this year’s Champions Cup with a home win over Northampton.
Josua Tuisova, Charlie Ngatai, Jonathan Wisniewski and Liam Gill are just some of those coming back into the side to take on the Saints.
French team Lyon cannot qualify for the quarter-finals as they’re well off the pace in Pool 1 after losing four of their five matches to date.
Meanwhile, Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd has made 10 changes to his side as the men in Black, Green and Gold bid to reach the knockout stages.
Standing in their way at Stade de Gerland are Lyon, with Boyd’s charges needing a strong result to push themselves ahead of several other sides also in the running to progress in the best-placed runner-up spots.
Should Saints progress, it would be the club’s first quarter-final appearance in the Champions Cup since 2016, and Boyd has rung the changes with five new faces in the pack and five fresh pairs of legs in the backline following a stuttering showing against Benetton last weekend.
Co-captains Alex Waller and Teimana Harrison are both selected to lead Saints in arguably the club’s biggest game of the season so far, with the former joined in the front-row by hooker Mikey Haywood and prop Owen Franks.
Number eight Harrison meanwhile is flanked in the back-row by England internationals Lewis Ludlam and Tom Wood, leaving Courtney Lawes and Alex Moon together to provide the grunt in the engine room.
George Furbank has shaken off the niggle that kept him out of last weekend’s clash at Franklin’s Gardens to take his place at full-back, with Ahsee Tuala coming back in on the wing and Ollie Sleightholme rounding off the back three.
Fraser Dingwall is joined in Northampton’s midfield by the powerful Andy Symons, while Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach are reunited in the half-back berths after both were rested last Saturday.
Saints’ bench also boasts plenty of strength in depth, with the likes of Harry Mallinder, Henry Taylor and Rory Hutchinson all hoping to make an impact from amongst the replacements.
Lyon: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Xavier Mignot, 13 Josua Tuisova, 12 Charlie Ngatai (c), 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Liam Gill, 7 Patrick Sobela, 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Hendrik Roodt, 4 Virgile Bruni, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Badri Alkhazashvili, 1 Xavier Chiocci
Replacements: 16 Jeremie Maurouard, 17 Vivien Devisme, 18 Kévin Yaméogo, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Felix Lambey, 21 Jonathan Pélissié, 22 Ethan Dumortier, 23 Jean-Marcellin Buttin
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Andrew Symons, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison (cc), 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller (cc)
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Francois Van Wyk, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Alex Coles, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Harry Mallinder
Venue: Matmut Stadium de Gerland
Kick off: 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Dave Sutherland (Scotland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Benetton v Leinster
Benetton head coach Kieran Crowley has rung the changes to his starting line-up to take on Leinster in their Pool 1 encounter in Treviso.
In the backline, Angelo Esposito comes in for Leonardo Sarto on the right wing while Luca Morisi and Marco Zanon replace Tommaso Benvenuti and Alberto Sgarbi in the centres.
There is also a new half-back combination with Ian Keatley and Tito Tebaldi taking over from Tommaso Allan and Dewaldt Duvenage respectively.
In the forwards, Toa Halafihi starts at number eight with Marco Barbini, who captains the side, moving to the blindside flank where he replaces Marco Lazzaroni and Abraham Steyn takes over from Giovanni Pettinelli on the openside.
In the second-row, Eli Snyman comes in for Federico Ruzza while Simone Ferrari and Federico Zani are preferred to Tiziano Pasquali and Nicola Quaglio as the starting props.
Meanwhile, there are no changes to the Leinster backline from last week’s win against Lyon at the RDS Arena but there are a number of tweaks in the pack, as they look to book a home quarter-final.
Jordan Larmour is again selected at full-back, as is Dave Kearney on the right and James Lowe on the left wing.
Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are the centre partnership for the trip to Italy. Luke McGrath, who captains Leinster in Europe for the first time, and Ross Byrne again form the half-back partnership.
In the pack, Cian Healy is retained in the front-row, with Seán Cronin and Andrew Porter coming in.
Devin Toner starts in the second-row this week with James Ryan returning from a calf injury to take his place in the number five jersey.
In the back-row, last weekend’s man of the match Max Deegan moves onto the blindside from number eight, with Josh van der Flier retaining his position at openside.
Caelan Doris is the final addition with the 21-year-old coming in to start in the number eight jersey.
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Marco Barbini (c), 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Federico Zani
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Irné Herbst, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Marco Lazzaroni, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti
Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath (c), 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Max Deegan, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Rob Kearney
Venue: Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Kick off: 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (England), Anthony Woodthorpe (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) January 17, 2020
Ulster v Bath
The Ulster coaching team has named their matchday squad for Saturday’s sold-out Champions Cup pool decider against Bath at Kingspan Stadium.
Front-row forward Tom O’Toole – who was this week named in the Ireland Six Nations squad – is the only alteration to the side defeated by Clermont Auvergne last week.
Will Addison is named at full-back and is joined in the back three by Robert Baloucoune and Jacob Stockdale on the wings. The familiar centre pairing of Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey will start in midfield. John Cooney and Billy Burns retain their half-back partnership.
Jack McGrath, starting at loosehead and Rob Herring at hooker are named with O’Toole at tighthead. Alan O’Connor will combine with Iain Henderson, who captains the side, in the second-row. Sean Reidy is retained at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy at openside and Marcell Coetzee gets the number eight starting berth.
In the replacements, forwards Ross Kane and Nick Timoney, and winger Craig Gilroy return to the bench. They are named with Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan and Kieran Treadwell who make up the other forward options. David Shanahan and Bill Johnston are the other backline reinforcements.
Meanwhile, Charlie Ewels captains the Bath side as he returns to the Premiership outfit’s starting line-up.
The 23-year-old makes his first appearance in two months after picking up a knee injury in the Round 2 tie against Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop.
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper makes eight changes to the starting side that lost 25-19 to Harlequins last week, including the return of England international Ruaridh McConnochie, who replaces Aled Brew in the starting XV.
Tom Homer comes into the side for Anthony Watson at full-back, with Gabe Hamer-Webb and McConnochie making up the back three. Max Wright and Jackson Willison retain their place in midfield.
Youngster Ollie Fox replaces Max Green, who unfortunately broke his leg in the match against Harlequins last time out.
Beno Obano and Will Stuart move back into front-row to replace Lewis Boyce and Christian Judge respectively.
Sam Underhill comes back into the side at openside for Mike Williams, and changes to the bench include the returning Josh McNally, Chris Cook and Rhys Priestland who make the matchday 23.
Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean Reidy, 5 Iain Henderson (c), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Nick Timoney, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Craig Gilroy
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Gabe Hamer-Webb, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Max Wright, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ollie Fox, 8 Josh Bayliss, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels (c), 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Aled Brew
Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant referees: Cédric Marchat (France), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Patrick Dellac (France)
Harlequins vs Clermont Auvergne
Harlequins’ final match of the 2019/20 Champions Cup campaign will see centre Tom Penny make his debut for the club, with Academy hooker Sam Riley in line for his first appearance, off the replacements bench.
Openside flanker James Chisholm leads the side which also includes Alex Dombrandt (number eight) and Will Collier (tighthead prop), who recently extended their contracts with the club.
Meanwhile, Clermont have made three changes, including a positional switch, to their run-on side which beat Ulster last weekend.
In the backline, there is just one alteration with Apisai Naqalevu starting at inside centre in place of George Moala. In the forwards, Arthur Iturria shifts from the flank to number eight where he replaces Fritz Lee while Alexandre Fischer will wear the number six jersey.
Elsewhere, Sitaleki Timani replaces Paul Jedrasiak in the second-row for the pool leaders.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Ross Chisholm, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Tom Penny, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Brett Herron, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 James Chisholm (c), 6 Dino Lamb, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Glen Young, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Musk, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Toby Freeman, 20 Semi Kunatani, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Gabriel Ibitoye
Clermont Auvergne: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Isaiah Toeava, 12 Apisai Naqalevu, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra (c), 8 Arthur Iturria, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Alexandre Fischer, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Etienne Falgoux
Replacements: 16 Yohan Beheregaray, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Faifili Levave, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Peter Betham
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
🍛 Double Curry back at the AJ Bell
⚓ The Skipper returns to the squad
🦈 Joe Carpenter gets his debut!
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) January 17, 2020
Sale Sharks vs Glasgow Warriors
Steve Diamond makes nine changes to the Sale squad that travelled to La Rochelle in Round Five, as a host of players are rotated in this week to face Glasgow.
In the forwards, Curtis Langdon and WillGriff John replace Rob Webber and Jake Cooper-Woolley in the front-row, with John making his final appearance for Sale before heading to Wales’ Six Nations training camp.
Matt Postlethwaite and James Phillips both keep their places at lock for this match and there are two changes in the back-row ahead of the Warriors’ visit. Tom Curry returns to blindside flanker in place of Jean-Luc du Preez along with club captain Jono Ross, who also returns to the matchday squad to lead the team from number eight.
Will Cliff starts at scrum-half and will team up with promising England U20 fly-half Tom Curtis, who will make his European debut.
James Williams keeps his place at inside centre after an impressive performance in La Rochelle which saw him convert to fly-half after a serious injury to USA International AJ MacGinty on the half hour mark. Williams pairs up with Luke James in the midfield.
England wings Marland Yarde and Denny Solomona combine to add some experience to a young Sharks backline, they will support Joe Carpenter on his full Sale debut at full-back.
Rob Webber and Jake Cooper-Woolley provide experience form the bench and make up the replacement front-row alongside Sale’s latest recruit, Ben Carlile, with the 20-year-old agreeing a full-time contract with the club this week.
Cameron Redpath also returns to matchday action as a replacement option in the backs with Gus Warr and Tom Roebuck.
Meanwhile, Leone Nakarawa will make his first appearance for Glasgow Warriors since returning to the club earlier this month, after being named in the starting XV for Saturday’s game.
The Fijian is one of five personnel changes to the side that battled to a thrilling 31-31 draw with Exeter Chiefs at Scotstoun last weekend, as the Warriors travel south knowing that a win is the minimum requirement in order to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.
Aki Seiuli is the only alteration to the starting front-row, with the Christchurch-born loosehead packing down alongside Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson.
An unchanged second-row once again sees Jonny Gray and Scott Cummings combine in the engine room, the pair having put in an impressive defensive shift last time out.
Ryan Wilson shifts from the blindside to number eight whilst also assuming the captaincy, as Tom Gordon caps a week that saw a first-ever Scotland call-up by joining the returning Nakarawa on the flanks.
Behind the scrum, Ali Price comes into the side at scrum-half with Adam Hastings continuing at fly-half after his man-of-the-match showing at Scotstoun last Saturday.
Huw Jones retains his place at 13 following his try-scoring performance against Exeter, lining up outside Sam Johnson in the Glasgow midfield.
Club record try-scorer DTH van der Merwe returns to the matchday squad to start on the wing, joining Kyle Steyn and Glenn Bryce in the back three.
Sale Sharks: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Luke James, 12 James Williams, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Thomas Curtis, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Tom Curry, 5 James Phillips, 4 Matthew Postlewhaite, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Ben Carlile, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Sam Dugdale, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Fergus Warr, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Thomas Roebuck
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson (c), 7 Tom Gordon, 6 Leone Nakarawa, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 George Horne, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Niko Matawalu
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Julien Dufort (France)
TMO: Éric Gauzins (France)
Exeter Chiefs vs La Rochelle
A victory against visiting La Rochelle at Sandy Park will ensure Exeter Chiefs pocket a home quarter-final and the advantage of edging ever closer to the latter stages of Europe’s top club competition.
Four wins and last week’s draw have put the Chiefs firmly at the summit of Pool 2 on 22 points, a fine effort indeed from the current Premiership leaders, who have made no secret of the fact that they want to replicate their dominant domestic form onto that of the European stage.
Team news for the Chiefs sees Rob Baxter boosted with a number of his frontline forwards back in action. Harry Williams has served his two-week suspension and returns at tighthead, while behind Dave Dennis, Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds also return to bolster the home pack.
Behind, Nic White misses out after sustaining a facial injury against Glasgow, so Jack Maunder gets the nod at scrum-half, while in the midfield Sam Hill is preferred to Ollie Devoto at inside centre.
Meanwhile, La Rochelle have named a strong line-up for what promises to be a tough trip to Sandy Park.
A formidable front-row of Dany Priso, Pierre Bourgarit and Uini Atonio immediately stands out while Lopeti Timani and Grégory Alldritt are included in the back-row.
Ihaia West will pull the strings from fly-half and he has threats wide out that he will look to utilise, with Arthur Retiere, Kini Murimurivalu and Kini Murimurivalu in the back three.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Dave Dennis (c), 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ollie Devoto
La Rochelle: 15 Vincent Rattez, 14 Kini Murimurivalu, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Arthur Retiere, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Thomas Berjon, 8 Grégory Alldritt, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Rémi Leroux, 4 Romain Sazy (c), 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Pierre Bourgarit, 1 Dany Priso
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Léo Aouf, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Thomas Lavault, 20 Wiaan Liebenberg, 21 Alexi Bales, 22 Brock James, 23 Elliot Roudil
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Rob O’Sullivan (Ireland), Eddie Hogan O’Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)