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Weekend Rugby Wrap: 5 Takeaways

This was the last bit of action for at least 2 months in Europe, the knockouts will only come in April. The last weekend was full of great action.


This was the last bit of action for at least 2 months in Europe, the knockouts will only come in April. The last weekend was full of great action. Bet Central explores how the pool stage ended in Europe.

All South African Teams Into The Knockouts

The Cheetahs lost to Oyonnax in the 87th minute of an incredible game, and the Lions also fell to Ospreys in a Sunday afternoon fixture in Wales, but both losses meant nothing in the greater scheme of things as all 5 South African franchises progressed to the next stage of the European competitions.

The aforementioned teams along with the Sharks progressed to the round of 16 in the European Challenge Cup while the Bulls and the Stormers who both beat French opposition this past weekend went through in the European Champions Cup. It’s a good sign that South African rugby still possesses depth in its ranks.

Black Lion Shows Good Progress

The last 2 years have shown that Georgian Rugby is in a good state. There have been moments in the World Cup, World Junior Championship, and Test fixtures in general that suggest there is still so much more to come from the Georgians.

This season saw the inclusion of Black Lion in the Challenge Cup and it has been a worthy inclusion. They were beaten in 3 of the 4 games, but certainly not disgraced. They beat the Scarlets in Wales in their solitary win. Young flyhalf Luka Matkava’s star rose significantly. It would seem even on a domestic level; they are a force growing in strength.

Gloucester Sent Out A Message

Gloucester are in an almighty struggle in the Gallagher Premiership sitting 2nd from bottom in that competition, but that hasn’t been the case in the Challenge Cup where they have emerged as one of the better teams in the pool stage.

They beat Top 14 mid-table team Castres in an epic Friday night clash which saw them top Pool 3 and progress to the round of 16. The manner in which they beat the French side was incredible and it could be a sign of a turnaround in form for a team that has been playing well below its potential. They showed that they are not done as a team this season and could still push for significant silverware.

Is Embrose Papier Knocking On The Bok Door?

It feels like a lifetime ago when 21-year-old Embrose Papier won the 1st of his 7 Springboks caps in 2018. His incredible talent seemed unfulfilled as he was hit by inconsistent form and at some point, even lost his place as 1st choice no.9 at the Bulls.

This season he has looked like the Papier of old. His pace has been such a huge asset, and it was evident in his incredible solo effort against Bordeaux Begles. The Springboks don’t lack anything in terms of depth at scrumhalf, but Rassie Erasmus should be watching Papier’s form with keen interest.

Toulouse Extends Unbeaten Home Run

It was a Sunday afternoon classic between a resurgent Bath side and European rugby royalty, Toulouse. The battle of the supreme talents of Antoine Dupont and Finn Russell. It had the makings of a tasty affair, and it lived up to the billing.

Toulouse went on to win it late against a tough and stubborn side. The game was a stalemate at 19 all for a long period, but the genius of halfback pairing Thomas Ramos and Dupont proved to be the difference as Toulouse maintained an unbeaten run at home that dates back to April of 2022.

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