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Connacht v Stade Francais in the Heineken Champions Cup kicks off at 1pm Sunday, TV Coverage – The match is live on BT Sport 3 and Luke Pearse from England is the ref with David Rose on TMO duty.
Connacht are without Paul Boyle, Bundee Aki and Ultan Dillane. Stade have made ten changes to the team that won on Sunday. Expect a Connacht victory.
Head Coach Andy Friend is excited by the impending return of Heineken Champions Cup rugby in front of spectators:
“Sunday is the start of a really exciting opportunity for us to make an impact in the Champions Cup. Knockout rugby in the competition is the aim so a win this weekend is vital if we want to get there, albeit against a very strong Stade Francais team. There’s been some special occasions at our home in this competition so with a strong Sportsground crowd behind us it’s set up to be a great occasion”.
Connacht v Stade Francais
(1) This will be the first time that Connacht and Stade Francas have met in European competition, Stade will be the 24th different French outfit that Connacht have faced in either the Challenge Cup or Heineken Champions Cup
(2) Connacht are on a four game losing streak in the Heineken Champions Cup, their worst run since losing their opening games in the competition (2011/12)
(3) Connacht have won 14 of their last 17 home games in European competition, however, two of their three-time did come in their most recent two games at The Sportsground.
(4) Connacht averaged the most metres gained (575), most defenders beaten (34) of any side although their tackle success rate of 77% was the lowest in the competition.
(5) Stade de Francis are playing in the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time since 2015/16, which was also they played an away game against an Irish side in Europe, losing 13-26 to Munster back in January 2016.
Other facts about the Heineken Cup 2021/22
• The clubs in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup have a total of 38 European titles between them.
• Each club will play four matches during the pool stage, two at home and two away with the eight highest-ranked clubs in each pool qualifying for the Round of 16.
• The clubs ranked from nine to 11 in each of the pools will qualify for the Round of 16 of the EPCR Challenge Cup.
• The Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 matches will be played over two legs with the four highest-ranked clubs in each pool at home in the second leg. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played over one leg with the final scheduled for the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on Saturday 28 May.
• It was decided to extend the First Registration date to Wednesday (8 December) to allow all participating clubs to supplement their squads with an unlimited number of previously unregistered players.
• Of the players registered for the tournament, Leicester Tigers’ Richard Wigglesworth has made the most appearances with 93 to date – 69 for Saracens and 24 for Sale Sharks. Cian Healy of Leinster Rugby is next on 90 appearances.
• Leinster’s injured captain, Johnny Sexton, who is fourth on the tournament’s all-time points scoring list behind Ronan O’Gara, Stephen Jones and Owen Farrell, needs just one point to reach 700 career points.
• If available and selected, Cardiff Rugby’s Rhys Priestland and Bradley Davies of the Ospreys could both make their 50th tournament appearances in Round 1.