Investec Champions Cup quarter-finals: Northampton welcome Bulls, Leinster host La Rochelle and Harlequins travel to Bordeaux

Home » Investec Champions Cup quarter-finals: Northampton welcome Bulls, Leinster host La Rochelle and Harlequins travel to Bordeaux

Northampton Saints will host the Bulls in the Investec Champions Cup quarter-finals, which also feature a rematch of the past two finals.

Saints impressed in an exhilarating 24-14 win over Munster, with Leinster comfortably beating Leicester Tigers.

La Rochelle, who beat Leinster in those two finals, face the Irish side again after winning away at the Stormers.

Harlequins will travel to Bordeaux and Exeter Chiefs face a difficult away trip to five-time winners Toulouse.

Leo Cullen’s Leinster have suffered agonising back-to-back final defeats against La Rochelle, but they did clinch a pool-stage victory against Ronan O’Gara’s side in the opening game of this year’s tournament.

This is the fifth time in four seasons the sides have met in the competition.

“It’s a great challenge, isn’t it?” Cullen said. “We have seen plenty of each other over the last couple of seasons. That’s what you want. You want to be testing yourself against the best teams that are out there.

“La Rochelle have obviously won the tournament and beat us in two finals. We managed to get a win against them in round one this year, but it’s two good teams going at it.”

Bulls remain the only South African side left in the competition after hammering Lyon 59-19 in Pretoria, and are in the last eight for the first time.

Quins’ first knockout win in Europe’s top-tier competition in their history against Glasgow results in a daunting trip to Bordeaux Begles, who hammered Saracens 45-12 in France on Saturday.

Exeter, who reached the semi-finals last season, produced a strong second-half performance to see off fellow Premiership side Bath 21-15 at Sandy Park.

Antoine Dupont’s Toulouse came into the knockout stages as the number-one seeds after winning all four pool games, andscored five tries in a 31-7 win over Racing 92 on Sunday.

Quarter-final fixtures (kick-off times in BST)

(1) Toulouse v Exeter Chiefs (8) – Sunday, 14th April – 15:00

(4) Bordeaux Begles v Harlequins (5) – Saturday, 13th April – 15:00

(2) Leinster v La Rochelle (10) – Saturday, 13th April – 17:30

(3) Northampton v Bulls (6) – Saturday, 13th April – 20:00

Seedings in brackets

Potential semi-finals

The semi-finals could see an all-English or all-French contest, with the winner of Toulouse against Exeter facing Bordeaux Begles or Harlequins.

Toulouse, as number-one seed, will have a home semi-final if they defeat Rob Baxter’s side. Victory for Exeter and a win for Bordeaux would still mean another away tie in France for the Chiefs.

If both English sides win then Quins would host Exeter.

On the other side of the draw, if Northampton overcome Bulls they will face one of last year’s finalists in Leinster or La Rochelle.

If La Rochelle win, the Saints will have a home draw, but if Leinster win, Northampton would face a trip to Dublin in the semi-finals.

Analysis

by BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones

While three Premiership clubs making the last eight is a reason to celebrate for English rugby, in reality both Harlequins and Exeter face daunting tasks against mighty French opposition – although both did win impressively in France earlier in the season.

With a home tie against the hemisphere-traversing Bulls, Northampton have by far the best chance of the three of reaching a semi-final, and with the win against Munster coming off the back of vanquishing Saracens, the Saints have Franklin’s Gardens bouncing.

As ever, Antoine Dupont’s Toulouse remain a team to watch, and will have “home country advantage” if they get past Exeter – although Bordeaux will provide formidable last-four opposition if both get there.

Leinster could again find themselves in a final without leaving Dublin. But Leinster supporters will fear La Rochelle, who have won the last two finals, and showed huge resilience to win in Cape Town this weekend – a very impressive achievement given the logistical challenges.

Key dates

Quarter-finals – 12/13/14 April

Semi-finals – 3/4/5 May

Final – 25 May

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