Imagine Rugby Blogs

A look back at the year in Rugby Union

French dominate Heineken Cup

Posted Dec 28, 2010 by Jeff Dawson

It’s that time of year when we take a look back on what has happened throughout the rugby world in 2010 and we start with Europe’s premier club competition, the Heineken Cup.
The fabulous competition was in its 15th year last season and it proved to be a year to savour for the French and one to forget for the English clubs.
Northampton Saints were the only home nation club to make it out of the group stages when they finished second to Munster in Pool One whilst Gloucester had to make do with a Challenge Cup quarter final spot despite finishing second in Pool Two.
For the likes of Leicester Tigers, Bath, Sale, Harlequins and London Irish, it was a difficult campaign that will not live long in the memory.
Toulouse and Munster looked like the teams to beat as they eased past Stade Francais and Northampton respectively in their quarters while Leinster and Biarritz, who progressed, had to endure tough matches with Clermont Auvergne and Ospreys, both finishing 29-28.
The semi finals belonged to the French sides as both ties saw Irish clubs come up against French clubs. Toulouse proved their strength once more with a comfortable 26-16 win over Leinster whilst, surprisingly, Biarritz made light work of Munster, running out 18-7 winners thanks to an exemplary kicking display from Dimitri Yachvili who made all six of his attempts.
The final wasn’t necessarily a classic as it ended 19-21 in Toulouse’s favour and only saw one try but it was thrilling entertainment and Toulouse were worthy winners.
Yachvili finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 113 points whilst Tommy Bowe of the Ospreys scored the most tries with seven in seven appearances.
This season, after four matches, Northampton look well placed to take the fight to Europe with four wins while Leinster, Biarritz, Scarlets, Toulon and Toulouse will all be in the hunt.
Toulouse will be favourites to retain their crown but I believe that the Saints may play a bigger part in the destination of this season’s Heineken Cup than they did last year.

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