Saint Toulousain v Exeter

Champions Cup Quarter Final Review

We are approaching the conclusion of the 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup, and we now know the teams that will take part in the semi-finals.

Following what was an enthralling weekend of action in this year’s Investec Champions Cup, we now know the identity of the four teams that are going to be taking part in the semi-finals. The teams who have made it to this late stage of the competition are Stade Toulousain, Harlequins, Leinster Rugby, and the Northampton Saints.

The semi-finals of the 2023/24 Champions Cup are set to be played from Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th May 2024.

Three of the four teams remaining have won this competition on at least one occasion. It is Stade Toulousain who have won this title on the most occasions with no less than 5 to their name, and they are closely followed by Leinster who’ve won this prestigious tournament 4 times as of the time of writing.

The Northampton Saints are the other team to have won this trophy, and they did so for the first and so far only time in the 1999/00 edition of this competition. They have also reached one final since then in 2010/11. Harlequins are looking for the inaugural Champions Cup, and they are, of course, still firmly in the running to make some history this season.

French team Stade Toulousain won the very first edition of this tournament in 1995/96, beating Cardiff Rugby 21 – 18 after extra time in that year’s final. They then went on to win in 2002/03 (22 – 17 vs. Perpignan), 2004/05 (18 – 12 vs. Stade Francais), 2009/10 (21 – 19 vs. Biarritz) and most recently in 2020/21, where they were able to emerge as 21 – 17 winners at the iconic Twickenham Stadium against La Rochelle.

Moving on to Leinster, their first success in the final of this prestigious tournament came at Murrayfield in 2008/09 where they were able to beat the Leicester Tigers by a margin of 19 – 16 in front of a 66,523-strong crowd in Edinburgh. Their second Champions Cup title win came in 2010/11 when they were able to beat the Northampton Saints 33 – 22 at Twickenham.

A second consecutive (and third overall) title came the very next season (2011/12), where they were emphatic 42 – 14 winners against Ulster at the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh Capital of Cardiff.

Then came Leinster’s fourth and most recent win in this competition, where they were 15 – 12 winners at the San Mames Stadium, beating Racing 92 in the Spanish City of Bilbao. They have since gone on to reach three further finals, losing to Saracens in 2018/19 and La Rochelle on two consecutive occasions in 2021/22 and 2022/23. They will most certainly want to reach the final and go one step further.

Finally, as mentioned previously, Harlequins are yet to win the Investec Champions Cup, and they are the only club left to have not done so yet. This could yet change this year – who do you think will win this season’s Champions Cup?

Here, we are going to take a look back at the Quarter Final action that took place from Saturday 13th to Sunday 14th April 2024.

Bordeaux Begles 41 – 42 Harlequins

The first match we are going to take a look back at produced a sensational shock – Harlequins were able to emerge as 42 – 41 winners on Saturday after what was a nerve-wracking occasion at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

Resilience won the day for Harlequins, who managed to hold back Bordeaux who had been in ruthless form against reigning Premiership Champions Saracens, who they beat 45 – 12 on 6th April. There were an astonishing total of 12 tries – both teams got 6. In terms of conversions, Bordeaux had 4, whilst Harlequins got 5 in all.

Harlequins’ tries came thanks to Will Porter (2), Will Evans, Alex Dombrandt, and Tyrone Green, whilst it was Marcus Smith who scored all of his team’s 5 conversions that day.

Meanwhile, the tries for Bordeaux were scored by Maxime Lucu, Romain Buros, Nicolas Depoortere, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, and Madosh Tambwe (2). Lucu did score a penalty for his team, whilst also scoring all five of his side’s conversions on the day.

Harlequins will now be coming face to face with Stade Toulousain in the 2023/24 Semi-Final at the Stadium de Toulouse on Sunday 5th May in what is going to be a 15:00pm kick-off.

Leinster 40 – 13 La Rochelle

We will now move on to the Quarter Final game between Leinster and La Rochelle at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday 13th April 2024. La Rochelle are the current holders of the Investec Champions Cup, but they will now not get the chance to retain their title after being heavily beaten 40 – 13 by a superb Leinster.

This had been a fixture played in this competition for the fourth year running, with Leinster having only won once, with La Rochelle winning the other three. On this occasion, Leinster secured a convincing win thanks to a fantastic performance that saw them score 5 tries, 3 penalties, and 3 conversions.

James Lowe (2), Jamison Gibson-Park, Ryan Baird, and Dan Sheehan were the try scorers for Leinster, whilst it was Ross Byrne who scored all three of his side’s penalties and conversions. La Rochelle only managed one try through Louis Penverne, whilst it was Antoine Hastoy who scored both of their penalties and their one and only conversion on the day.

After their emphatic win in the Quarter Finals, Leinster have been drawn against the Northampton Saints in the semi-finals at Croke Park in a 17:30 kick-off on Saturday 4th May 2024.

Northampton Saints 59 – 22 Vodacom Bulls

The third 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup Quarter Final game that we will be reviewing here saw the Northampton Saints take on the Vodacom Bulls at the Cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday 13th April. In the end, this was an emphatic 59 – 22 victory for Northampton, who secured their place in the semi-finals.

Over the course of this enthralling contest, the Northampton Saints scored no less than 9 tries through James Ramm (2), Courtney Lawes, Ollie Sleightholme, Alex Mitchell (2), Alex Coles, Fraser Dingwall and Juarno Augustus. It was Fin Smith who scored all 7 of his side’s conversions on the day.

As for the Bulls, they got 3 tries, 2 conversions, and one penalty in this game. Cameron Hanekom, Akker van der Merwe, and Sebastian de Klerk got the tries for the Vodacom Bulls, whilst it was Chris Smith who scored both of their conversions and their penalty.

Following this highly impressive and convincing win, the Northampton Saints are set to go head to head with Leinster Rugby in a 17:30 kick-off on Saturday 4th May 2024 at Croke Park in Dublin.

Stade Toulousain 64 – 26 Exeter

We are now moving on to the fourth and final 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup Quarter Final clash. This game saw Stade Toulousain take on the Exeter at the Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse, France. It was an emphatic win in the end for Stade Toulousain, who won by a margin of 64 – 26.

Over the course of this game, Stade Toulousain were able to score an incredible total of 9 tries. These tries came courtesy of Romain Ntamack, Jack Willis, Blair Kinghorn (2), Pita Ahki (2), Antoine Dupont, and Juan Cruz Mallia (2). The French side were also able to score 8 conversions, 5 from Kinghorn and 3 from Thomas Ramos.

As for Exeter, they scored two tries through Ethan Roots and Zack Wimbush. As for conversions, Henry Slade scored both for the Chiefs whilst it was also Slade who scored all 4 of his team’s penalties in this game.

Stade Toulousain have been drawn against Harlequins, which is a game this going to be played on Sunday 5th May in what is set to be taking place at the Stadium de Toulouse, with the game to kick-off at 15:00 that afternoon.

Excitement and anticipation are now building for the 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup Final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday 25th May, with this showpiece occasion getting underway at 14:45 that afternoon.

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