Rugby Union

Toulon remain favourites to escape European 'Pool of Death'

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We seem to have had enough of ‘Pool of Death’ scenarios already, but those who follow European rugby will know that Pool five of this year's tournament definitely qualifies as that.

Featuring Leinster, Wasps, Bath and Toulon, it boasts four of the biggest names in the Northern Hemisphere game and will feature some of the best attacking play we will witness, as the likelihood is they will go at each other to gain qualification. But realistically who will progress?


Obviously the Triple Crown winners of this tournament will be favourites to progress out of it as they undoubtedly have the most star-studded squad this side of the equator.


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The sheer number of players they have that would walk into a first team elsewhere just sitting on their bench shows their strength in depth.

The recent saga regarding the acquisition of Quade Cooper also means they could have a bright spark to set everything alight. Cooper takes a lot of criticism, but he is a player who can have one moment of magic to bring everything to life and in a squad like Toulon’s, his weaknesses could be well covered. A promising debut has set things up for his future in France.

Leinster and Bath

These two are giants of their respective domestic games. Bath are beginning to emerge as competitors to Saracens reign over the championship with a lot of young English talent in the midfield. Meanwhile, Leinster boast a whole host of localised stars that can win a game.

The fixtures between these two sides will probably decide the runner up to this pool, although, with Bath seemingly making a slow start and losing to fellow pool members Wasps a few weeks ago, this fixture could be a lot tighter than it initially looks on paper.

The key battle will be between the two midfields and will be decided if Leinster can shut out the young Kyle Eastmond-Jonathan Joseph combination that can trouble the best of teams.

The battle of the 10s will also be crucial, with Jonathan Sexton back, he will look to control George Ford like he did in the Six Nations face-off earlier this year.

If Ford is shut down, no ball will get out to the electric midfield and Bath will be starved of creativity.

These two will be eagerly awaiting their game and both will be eying an upset against the favourites of this group.

The Underdogs: Wasps

Wasps maybe have not been given a fair chance in this one. Already somewhat written off, London’s new Coventry side have the players to cause a serious upset.

Last year, they played Toulon in the knockout stages and they gave the French side a scare.

Whilst the scoreline inevitably ticked in Toulon’s favour, it wasn’t all red. With a score of 32-18 against a side like that, it is not a bad deposit. Since then, they have bolstered their side and could be a lot more dangerous this year.

The additions of Frank Halai, veteran George Smith and Charles Pitau just adds to the brilliance of Christan Wade, Eliot Daly and Sailosi Tagicakibau and means Wasps have the ability to certainly overthrow Leinster and Bath should they underestimate the midlands side.

While they may be seen as the little boys in a collision of giants, Wasps still carry one hell of a sting and the big boys should be very wary.

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