Rugby Union Today: European build-up

Date published: December 7 2018

Another busy day in the rugby union game as we look ahead to the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup games on Saturday and Sunday.

What’s on the site

There are several interesting matches in the Champions Cup and we have previewed those contests on Saturday and Sunday. Five games take place tomorrow while six further teams go head-to-head a day later.

In the Challenge Cup, there are eight encounters and we have listed the teams for all 16 sides, with Bristol v La Rochelle the standout contest.

Finally, check out the best odds for two of the big matches in Europe’s top-tier competition in our betting preview. We have selected the head-to-heads involving the main Irish provinces as Leinster visit Bath and Munster host Castres.

What’s in the news

Saracens, and potentially England, were handed a blow following an injury to star lock Maro Itoje, who returned from England duty with a knee issue and is set to miss several weeks.

Meanwhile, Bryan Habana has backed the exceptional New Zealand wing Rieko Ioane to beat his World Cup try-scoring record next year. The South African touched down eight times in 2007, equalling the effort of late All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, but Habana expects Ioane to break it.

What’s on social media

The men’s Six Nations has a new sponsor but unfortunately and frustratingly that does not extend to the female equivalent, who have yet to find someone.

What’s on TV

The Champions Cup returns this weekend with the double-headers, which will no doubt play a crucial role in qualification. It is live on BT Sport with Munster v Castres, Bath v Leinster, Edinburgh v Newcastle and Wasps v Toulouse looking like the standout encounters.

On Sky Sports, it is all about the World Rugby Sevens Series, which heads to Cape Town. South Africa are the defending men’s series champions but produced a disappointing performance in Dubai and will look for an improvement on home soil.