How are Leinster and Munster shaping up after qualifying for the Champions Cup quarter-finals?
Ireland proudly saw Leinster and Munster both claim home quarter-finals in the European Champions Cup with the former through as top seeds.
Leinster’s impressive cup campaign ended with another big away win in Montpellier while Munster thrashed Castres 48-3 at Thomond Park.
The two teams are now amongst the favourites for the competition and it’s an exciting line-up in the last eight for the two big Irish provinces.
Leinster were the only club to complete the pool stages with a 100 per cent record thanks to a 23-14 win over Montpellier in the final round of fixtures.
Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw and Sean Cronin all dotted down in France.
No.1 ranked Leinster’s 27 match points is the highest total recorded in the pool stage by the three-time winners – Biarritz Olympique’s 29 points in the 2006/07 season remains the benchmark.
But, despite finishing as top seeds, they face arguably the hardest quarter-final tie as two-time European champions Saracens travel to Dublin.
Saracens snuck through after beating Northampton Saints 62-14 but needed other results to go their way to reach the last eight.
However, the back-to-back champions were beaten twice in the group stage by Clermont Auvergne and have not looked the indestructible side they once were.
There was also no rain on Munster’s parade, even though their game against Castres on Sunday was delayed by three hours due to the wet weather at Thomond Park.
The wait was worth it for the fans as Munster reached the quarter-finals for a record 17th time, running out 48-3 winners and set up a home tie against Toulon.
Keith Earls was a standout performer for Munster, who bounced back from their 34-30 defeat at Racing 92 seven days previous.
Munster also have home advantage in their quarter-final but visiting French giants Toulon, three-time winners of the Champions Cup, will be no pushovers.
It’s set to be another cracker of a European knockout tie with the Irish sides not due to meet until the final in Bilbao should they both get that far.