Leinster go close but left to rue slow start
A season of progress, yes, but Leinster were left wanting so much more in Lyon.
A season of progress, yes, but Leinster were left wanting so much more in Lyon.
It may now have been three seasons since Ulster found themselves in the knockout stages of European Rugby's top competition, but the province can still offer some insight into what their Irish rivals have in store this weekend.
Despite all the doom and gloom of recent seasons - reaching a nadir last season when no Irish side reached the Champions Cup quarter-finals - we are 160 minutes away from an all-Ireland final.
Leading his side into this afternoon's Champions Cup semi-final with Munster at the Aviva Stadium (3.15pm kick-off), Mark McCall will certainly be on familiar ground.
In the week when Iain Henderson was named as the university’s 22nd Lion, Queen’s last night celebrated their unique contribution to the famous rugby touring side’s history.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young insisted Willie Le Roux's error was not a turning point in Saturday's 32-17 Champions Cup quarter-final defeat at Leinster.
Damien Penaud's late try capped a powerful second-half display as Clermont dismissed Toulon to set up a Champions Cup semi-final clash with Leinster.
Former Ulster coach Mark McCall now faces the prospect of preparing his Saracens side for a trip to Dublin to face Munster in the Champions Cup semi-final, something that will feel all too familiar for many of his players after England's Grand Slam-miss three weeks ago in the Six...
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus hailed his side's Champions Cup quarter-final win as fantastic as the province roared into their 12th semi-final with a 41-16 win over Toulouse.
There will definitely be one very tense Ulsterman at the Aviva Stadium today as Leinster and Wasps battle it out for a place in the European Champions Cup semi-finals.
When the Wasps squad met up first thing on Monday, it wouldn't have come as a surprise if Dai Young began by picking apart both of last season's victories over Leinster, but instead they have gone about their week as if they never happened.
Luke McAllister's memories of playing in Thomond Park range from anywhere between unhappy to miserable but there was a time when the former All Black might have called the famous Limerick venue home.
For all that Robbie Henshaw has achieved in his still-fledgling career, it's easy to forget that he has yet to feature in the knockout stages of Europe's premier competition.
European Champions Cup holders Saracens will host Glasgow Warriors in the quarter-finals after the draw was made yesterday.
Former Ulster coach and captain Mark McCall wants to see Saracens secure an all-important home quarter-final when they take on Toulon at Allianz Park this afternoon (3.15pm kick-off).
Johnny Sexton is in a race to be fit for the Six Nations after his injury-hit season took another turn for the worse in Castres last night. The Ireland out-half was forced off after 22 minutes of last night's 24-24 draw at Stade Pierre Antoine with a calf injury and must now be...
It was pretty dire stuff at the Stade Chaban-Delmas last Sunday as Bordeaux-Begles lost out to Pool Five winners Clermont by a mere three penalties to two. All in all, a fairly meek way to effectively bow out of the Champions Cup for the side currently seventh in the Top 14.
Les Kiss has named his match day squad for Ulster's concluding Champions Cup pool game, against Union Bordeaux Bègles, at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (1.00pm).
Ulster star Paddy Jackson expects the side's troubles this season will soon be behind them after a frank behind-closed-doors meeting among the players.
Quietly and with little fuss, Cian Healy is amassing a body of work this season that suggests he is, whisper it, over the succession of injuries that have plagued him since 2013.
With their Champions Cup hopes all but over, Ulster coach Niall Malone knows that winning is the only thing that will quell unrest among the Kingspan faithful.
It felt like a major turning point in Connacht back then, and four years on, that famous win in Toulouse still stands alone as the moment that the Westerners really believed they were on the road to something greater.
Conor Murray is at the centre of two storms while riding the crest of a wave.
Stephen Ferris has stunned Ulster Rugby fans by saying he "doesn't give two hoots" about what people at the Kingspan Stadium think of him.
Fuming Ulster coach Les Kiss has told his struggling players to shape up or ship out following last night's 31-19 loss to Exeter that effectively ended their European season - because Australian will not be leaving the Kingspan anytime soon.
Iain Henderson was again left searching for answers after another Ulster European season ended with a whimper.
While not quite dormant, Ulster's visit from Bordeaux this weekend will have the feel of a dead rubber with Les Kiss's men all but out of the Champions Cup after falling to Exeter last night.
Clermont ensured they would top Pool 5 with a game to spare after coming out on top in a dour contest over Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban Delmas yesterday.
After a year in the wilderness, Leinster will once again take their place in the European elite this April after booking themselves into the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup with a 57-3 win over Montpellier.
The last time Ulster and Exeter met, things looked different.
Ulster superstar Charles Piutau has called on the side to take a giant step towards the Champions Cup quarter finals with victory in tomorrow's do-or-die clash with Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park (5.30pm).
Gregor Townsend has promised Munster his Glasgow Warriors side are targeting a season's best performance at Scotstoun this evening as the Scottish side look to leap-frog Rassie Erasmus' men and take control of Pool 1.
They took the same journey this time, only a different path. All together as one, yet all together without someone.
Northampton Saints will not face any disciplinary sanctions over their handling of George North's latest head injury, but it was ruled that he should not have returned to the field of play.
Ulster's Director of Rugby Les Kiss has said it is vital his side bounce back quickly from yesterday's Champions Cup defeat to Clermont, but has admitted his task has been made all the harder by a lack of preparation time ahead of Friday's visit from Connacht.
A rueful Rory Best admitted that Ulster's Champions Cup destiny was now out of their hands after they returned from Clermont empty handed yesterday.
In the mountainous Auvergne region, Ulster quickly left themselves with one to climb against Clermont yesterday and, despite a second-half fight-back, took no points from their Champions Cup clash.
After the shock announcement that Pat Lam will leave Connacht, Saturday's stunning win over Wasps couldn't have come at a better time. The whole province needed a lift and they got it in spades.
Munster boss Rassie Erasmus was full of praise for Leicester after six Owen Williams penalties clinched a dramatic victory for the home side at Welford Road, his final kick coming in the last minute.
Tournament organisers have said that Connacht should not have been awarded the late line-out from which they scored their winning try - through Naulia Dawai - against Wasps at the Sportsground.
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was delighted to see his side show their clinical edge in the comprehensive 60-13 Champions Cup victory over Northampton Saints at the Aviva Stadium.
Leinster's Robbie Henshaw is adjusting well to life as the elder statesman in his blooming midfield partnership with Garry Ringrose.
Rugby should be on a high. With three wins from four for the provinces last weekend and the return legs of the double-headers to come today and tomorrow, the European buzz is back.
Afterwards, there was a considerable gathering of yellow and blue outside the door where the team were about to make their exit from the Kingspan.
Wasps will take to the city of Galway for their Christmas party tonight and it's up to Connacht to spoil their mood.
Les Kiss has made just one change to the starting XV for Ulster's Champions Cup clash away to ASM Clermont Auvergne this Sunday, from the side that defeated the Top 14 table-toppers last weekend at Kingspan Stadium.
When Cian Healy first burst onto the scene, it seemed almost inconceivable, for a time at least, that so soon down the line there would be this number of quality looseheads fighting for the same place in the Ireland starting XV.
Connacht coach Pat Lam has told his forwards to stick to the day job and stop trying to be wannabe place-kickers. Connacht have a potential crisis on their hands with Jack Carty their only fit out-half and recognised goal-kicker.
Last Saturday's 39-32 Champions Cup victory over Clermont was breathtakingly fast and wonderfully furious, which was just fine as far as Kyle McCall was concerned.
Connacht head coach Pat Lam admitted this was an opportunity missed at the Ricoh Arena.
Republic of Ireland