Preview: Champions Cup, Sunday

Date published: October 12 2018

Four fixtures take place on Sunday in Round One of the Champions Cup, starting with Gloucester hosting Castres and Lyon facing Cardiff Blues.

Gloucester v Castres

Ben Morgan will skipper Gloucester while Tom Savage and Tom Marshall make their first competitive appearances of the season as the club kicks off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign at home to Castres.

Both players have been sidelined with injury so far this season, and make a timely return with a number of their team-mates unavailable for Sunday’s game.

Also returning to the starting line-up are full-back Jason Woodward and scrum-half Callum Braley, who were replacements against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena last weekend.

In the pack, Savage starts in the second-row in place of Ed Slater, while Freddie Clarke comes into the back-row in place of the suspended Lewis Ludlow.

Castres, meanwhile, opt for Ludovic Radosavljevic ahead of Rory Kockott at scrum-half, with Julien Dumora wearing 10 in a backline that includes Canada international Taylor Paris.

Up front, Jody Jenneker is named at hooker while Baptiste Delaporte and Alex Tulou join captain Mathieu Babillot in the back-row.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Tom Marshall, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ben Morgan (c), 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Freddie Clarke, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Todd Gleave, 20 Matt Banahan, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Tom Hudson

Castres: 15 Armand Batlle, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Julien Dumora, 9 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Baptiste Delaporte, 6 Mathieu Babillot (c), 5 Loic Jacquet, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Paea Fa’anunu, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Tudor Stroe
Replacements: 16 Paul Sauzaret, 17 Tapu Falatea, 18 Wilfrid Hounkpatin, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Yannick Caballero, 21 Yohan Le Bourhis, 22 David Smith, 23 Rory Kockott

Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 13:00 BST (12:00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino (Italy), Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Television match official: Stefano Pennè (Italy)

Lyon v Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues have made seven changes for their opening Heineken Champions Cup encounter at Lyon on Sunday.

Wales’ Capital Region, who won the European Challenge Cup last season, return to the top tier for first time since 2014, and go into competition on the back of three consecutive wins.

Head coach John Mulvihill has largely opted for the same squad that claimed the Welsh derby spoils against the Dragons last week but has reshuffled his starting XV.

Up front, props Rhys Gill and Dillon Lewis pack down either side of Kristian Dacey, with Brad Thyer and Dmitri Arhip dropping to the bench. Macauley Cook comes in for George Earle, while Olly Robinson, Ellis Jenkins and Josh Navidi form a dynamic back-row.

In the backs, Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans get the nod at half-back, with Gareth Anscombe switching to full-back, and Garyn Smith makes his first start of the season.

Hosts Lyon name Charlie Ngatai at full-back while fellow New Zealander Rudi Wulf wears 13 and is joined in the midfield by Thibaut Regard.

Jean-Marc Doussain and Lionel Beauxis form a vastly experienced half-back pairing as Lyon look to kick-off their European campaign on a positive note.

The teams:

Lyon: 15 Charlie Ngatai, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Thibaut Regard, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Patrick Sobela, 6 Julien Puricelli (c), 5 Hendrik Roodt, 4 Felix Lambey, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Alexandre Menini
Replacements: 16 Jeremie Maurouard, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Clément Ric, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Dylan Cretin, 22 Quentin Delord, 23 Pierre-Louis Barassi

Cardiff Blues: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Olly Robinson, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Rory Thornon, 20 Samu Manoa, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 Aled Summerhill

Venue: Matmut Stadium de Gerland
Kick-off: 14:00 local (13:00 BST, 12:00 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Ian Tempest (England), Wayne Falla (England)
Television match official: David Grashoff (England)

Toulon v Newcastle Falcons

Toulon will look to put their poor domestic form to one side when they kick off their Champions Cup campaign at home to Newcastle Falcons.

In team news Josua Tuisova and Julian Savea are their wings, with Anthony Belleau at inside centre and Francois Trinh-Duc wearing number 10.

Their pack includes Guilhem Guirado at hooker and Romain Taofifenua in the second-row.

Meanwhile, French prop Sami Mavinga starts for Newcastle Falcons on Sunday as they return to his homeland for this game.

Mavinga joins a freshened-up front-row as Newcastle play their first Champions Cup game for 14 seasons, joining Kyle Cooper and David Wilson in the starting spots as part of a side containing 10 changes from their last outing at Sale Sharks.

A number of those are enforced, captain Will Welch suffering an ankle injury which is expected to sideline him for the next couple of months, fly-half Toby Flood missing out due to a shoulder injury and Vereniki Goneva being sidelined following a head knock.

Alex Tait comes in at full-back and Tom Arscott replaces Goneva on the wing, Tom Penny slotting in at outside centre after impressing from the bench in recent weeks while Joel Hodgson takes the 10 shirt. Will Witty and Glen Young start in the second-row, the only other change coming in the back-row where Fiji number eight Nemani Nagusa is handed a first team debut.

The teams:

Toulon: 15 Daniel Ikpefan, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Anthony Belleau, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Raphael Lakafia (c), 7 Stephane Onambele Mbarga, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Jean Baptiste Gros
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Sébastien Taofifenua, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Malakai Fekitoa, 21 Hugo Bonneval, 22 Anthony Meric, 23 Florent Vanverberghe

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young, 8 Nemani Nagusa, 7 Gary Graham, 6 Mark Wilson (c), 5 Glen Young, 4 Will Witty, 3 David Wilson, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Sami Mavinga
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Ryan Burrows, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Pedro Bettencourt

Venue: Stade Felix Mayol
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 BST, 14:15 GMT)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Neil Patterson (Scotland)

Glasgow Warriors v Saracens

Callum Gibbins and Ryan Wilson both return to the Glasgow Warriors starting XV for their Heineken Champions Cup opener against Saracens.

Neither co-captain featured in last weekend’s 36-8 victory over Zebre and return refreshed for the visit of the reigning Premiership champions.

Matt Fagerson retains his spot at number eight and Rob Harley also comes back into the starting line-up, joining Jonny Gray in the second-row. Oli Kebble and D’Arcy Rae pack down either side of Fraser Brown completing the pack.

Ali Price partners Adam Hastings at half-back while Huw Jones is once again partnered with Alex Dunbar in midfield.

DTH van der Merwe will be looking to add to his 50 Glasgow Warriors tries as he is brought back into the starting XV. Lee Jones and Ruaridh Jackson join him in the back-three.

Meanwhile, Saracens have made five changes for their first Champions Cup pool match of the season.

Captain Brad Barritt is fit to play following an operation on a facial injury sustained in Premiership action a fortnight ago.

It forced the 32-year-old to miss Sarries’ win at Harlequins where Maro Itoje came off the bench for his 100th appearance for the Men in Black. He slots in on the flank for the trip to Scotland.

Former Glasgow winger Sean Maitland is promoted to the starting XV while tighthead prop Vincent Koch returns from Springbok duty to take the number three jersey.

Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth is the only other alteration.

The teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (cc), 6 Ryan Wilson (cc), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Rob Harley, 3 D’Arcy Rae, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 George Horne, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Rory Hughes

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Mike Rhodes, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Liam Williams

Venue: Scotstoun
Kick-off: 15:15 BST (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Alexandre Ruiz (France), Thomas Charabas (France)
Television match official: Philippe Bonhoure (France)