Home advantage huge in European QFs

Date published: April 4 2015

A look back through the history books suggests we should expect to see two European Champions Cup semi-finals in France.

Defending champions Toulon, 2013 finalists Clermont and number-one seeds Racing Metro will all host their quarter-finals on home soil this weekend with RCT and les Jaunards set to enjoy home-country advantage in the semi-finals if they beat Wasps and Northampton respectively.

Interestingly, in 72 quarter-final fixtures in Europe's top flight, 54 have been won by the home club – a staggering 75 percent success rate.

To add to that stat, neither Toulon nor Clermont have ever lost at home in the last eight of Europe's top flight.

Although English clubs make up half the quarter-finalists, they only enjoy a combined success rate of 20 percent away from home in the tournament, with just four wins in 20 quarter-final games to date.

In the nine away quarter-finals against French opposition, the success rate is a meagre 11 percent. (Saints' 7-6 victory over Biarritz in San Sebastian in 2007 being their only quarter-final success in France.)

Northampton seem to have the toughest task. Sale Sharks' 32-15 win in the 2008/09 season was the last time an English club won at Parc des Sports Marcel-Michelin. That is also the last time that Clermont lost at home in Europe. Since then they have won 22 home fixtures.

The history books are less kind on Racing Metro, who have reached the knockout stage for the first time in their history. No club has ever qualified for the quarter-finals as the top seed and then gone on to win the title in the same season.

Leinster seem the best placed to upset the French apple cart. The three-time champions host Bath in the opening QF and have happy memories of a semi-final win in France against Clermont in 2012.

Victory over Bath is likely to set up semi-final showdown with Toulon at Stade Velodrome in Marseille…