Challenge Cup Quarter Finals – Some Facts and Figures

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Connacht Rugby will equal Gloucester Rugby’s total of 10 knockout stage appearances when they meet Sale Sharks on Friday evening. Only Brive (13) and Newcastle Falcons (11) have more appearances in the last eight.

Connacht, who travel to the AJ Bell Stadium, have come up against Premiership opposition on four occasions at the quarter-final stage and have lost each time including last season against Gloucester.

Connacht’s Matt Healy is now joint fifth on the all-time Challenge Cup try scoring list with 19 tries behind Tom Varndell (25), Julien Arias (22), and Richard Haughton and Topsy Ojo (both 20).

No 1-ranked ASM Clermont Auvergne are the second club to achieve a maximum 30 points during the Challenge Cup pool stage. Ospreys were the first in the 2016/17 season.

The quarter-final line-up includes four tournament winners – Harlequins (3), Clermont (2), Northampton Saints (2) and Sale Sharks (2) – with nine Challenge Cup titles between them.

Clermont have played three home quarter-finals in the tournament to date and have won them all.

Bristol Bears’ Tom Pincus made the most metres during the pool stage with 476 and the joint-most clean breaks (17) with Clermont’s Peter Betham.

On the last two occasions that Sale reached the last eight, they lost at home to the eventual tournament winners – 19-25 to Montpellier in 2016 and 14-28 to Northampton in 2014.

Peter Betham of Clermont and Sale Sharks’ Chris Ashton are the leading try scorers from the pool stage with seven apiece.

Harlequins’ loss to RC Toulon at Stade Mayol in 2012 is the only defeat in six quarter-final matches for the 2001, 2004 and 2011 tournament winners.

Worcester Warriors, defeated finalists in 2008, have won all three of their quarter-final matches to date.

Of the clubs who have qualified for the last eight, Bristol’s Callum Sheedy is the top scorer with 55 points.

Clermont’s Apisai Naqalevu’s total of 27 defenders beaten was the highest from the pool stage.


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