Investec Champions Cup Team of the Week: ‘The conductor’ runs the show as winning teams rewarded in round of 16

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Will Evans (Harlequins), James Ramm (Northampton Saints), Damian Willemse (Stormers).

Split with Will Evans (Harlequins), James Ramm (Northampton Saints), Damian Willemse (Stormers).

Following an absorbing round of 16 knockout stage in the Investec Champions Cup, we had a discussion and selected our team of the week.

Most of the winning sides feature in our team with some of the losing outfits also ticking the box for selection.

Team of the Week

15 James Ramm (Northampton Saints): The full-back was in stunning form for his team and played a key role in their hard-fought win over Munster. He scored a try and assisted two whilst making more than 100 metres with ball in hand. Ramm’s efforts greatly influenced the result and that earns him the spot over Springbok veteran Willie le Roux of the Bulls.

14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs): There were many strong performances at right wing with Sebastian de Klerk (Bulls), George Hendy (Saints) and Damian Penaud (Bordeaux) all playing out of their socks. However, the doctor-to-be was electric for Exeter, beating a whopping 13 defenders against Bath in a stunning performance. He is oozing confidence since making his Test debut in the Six Nations.

13 Nicolas Depoortere (Bordeaux-Begles): It is hard to argue with tries and that is the case for the Frenchman, who ran in a beautiful brace against Saracens at the weekend. He looked really lethal all game long in a potent backline and earns his spot ahead of Canan Moodie of the Bulls and Racing 92 centre Gael Fickou.

12 Damian Willemse (Stormers): The Springbok showed that he is nothing short of world-class with a strong performance in a losing cause. Willemse did everything in his power to grab the game by the throat and that he did. The result could have gone the Stormers’ way if his try was not disallowed, still, he did not put a foot wrong in the centres all game long. Elsewhere there were strong performances from Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), David Kriel (Bulls), Pita Ahki (Toulouse) and Jamie Osborne (Leinster).

11 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls): The hot-stepping Springbok was at the heart of a lot of transitional play for the Bulls as he showed how well he can exploit open spaces. He made over 100 metres, beating nine defenders and assisting a try. His impact in electrifying the Bulls backline gets him in ahead of two-try Louis Bielle-Biarrey (Bordeaux) and Toulouse flyer Matthis Lebel.

10 Mateo Garcia (Bordeaux-Begles): Every orchestra needs a conductor and that was Garcia in every sense of the word. The fly-half was the heartbeat of Bordeaux’s strong win over Saracens, scoring two tries and assisting another. Add his impressive seven tackles at 100% and he is our pick even ahead of a blockbuster Marcus Smith effort for Quins.

9 Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster): Easily in the conversation around the best scrum-half in the world as his first-half hat-trick corroborates. Ireland’s number nine is pure in everything he does with his high-powered rugby mind consistently producing quality decisions throughout his time on the pitch. He is truly something special and gets in ahead of a herd of stars including Embrose Papier (Bulls), Antoine Dupont (Toulouse) and Tawera Kerr-Barlow (La Rochelle).

Ireland star scores hat-trick as Leinster dispose of Leicester to set up La Rochelle clash


8 Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle): The stand-in France skipper showed off his leadership qualities by inspiring a sensational comeback against the Stormers. Alldritt scored a clutch try on the hour mark in one of his 12 carries while on defence he made 12 tackles, missing just one. Exeter’s Ross Vintcent was critical to his team’s result as was Quins star Alex Dombrandt and Bull Elrigh Louw.

7 Will Evans (Harlequins): 23 tackles, not much more needs to be said really. Every time a player passes the 20 tackle mark it is a lung-busting effort and Evans was a key element in Quins staying ahead of a resurgent Glasgow Warriors side, particularly in the second period. His opposite number Rory Darge was also solid on the day.

6 Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs): Anyone googling ‘wrecking ball’ this week will have pictures of Roots popping up on their screens after a ridiculous 26-carry effort against Bath. His relentless carrying was something to behold and he was justly rewarded with the decisive try in the 66th minute. Ryan Baird of Leinster and Bulls skipper Marcell Coetzee were also brilliant.

5 Will Skelton (La Rochelle): Not only a colossus in the massive Stormers clash but a gentleman too as he shielded an injured opponent from ongoing play in an amazing moment of sportsmanship. His physicality was essential for La Rochelle’s comeback and that, combined with his amazing act of care, sees him get selected over JF van Heerden (Bulls), Ruben van Heerden (Stormers) and Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors).

4 Tadhg Beirne (Munster): It is sometimes impossible to keep a world-class player down and that was the case for the second-row against Northampton as his breakdown prowess very nearly derailed the hosts. Outside of that he worked tremendously hard in the set-piece and the carry. It was a performance head and shoulders above most second-rows.

3 Ben Tameifuna (Bordeaux-Begles): ‘Big Ben’ is a very scary sight for any opponent and for good reason. Bordeaux used him as a battering ram with 12 carries to his name as he bullied the Saracens defensive line. The Tongan skipper gets the nod ahead of La Rochelle’s Uini Atonio.

2 Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls): The busy hooker lived up to his reputation particularly on defence against Lyon as he notched up a team-high 13 tackles on the day, proving to be a key cog in a solid Bulls tight five effort. He gets in ahead of Dan Sheehan (Leinster) and Tolu Latu (La Rochelle).

1 Cyril Baille (Toulouse): The gargantuan prop was at his very consistent best again over the weekend as he carried relentlessly for Toulouse, making an impressive 10 carries on the day. He was also a rock in the scrum and earns selection over a host of solid performers, including Andrew Porter (Leinster), James Cronin (Leicester Tigers) and Stormers veteran Brok Harris.

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