Rugby: European Rugby Champions Cup Is Wide Open in Quarterfinals

The Exeter No. 8 Thomas Waldrom. When Exeter last visited Wasps in European pool play, Waldrom scored three tries in a 41-27 win.

Rex Features, via Associated Press

LONDON — As the Champions Cup replaces the recent Six Nations tournament in the European rugby union spotlight, much is already known about the later stages of this year’s competition.

Even before this weekend’s quarterfinals, we know there will be one all-English semifinal — the first since 2007 — and so a guaranteed English presence in the final on May 14 in Lyon, France. The French are already guaranteed at least one place in the final four.

A quarterfinal weekend that often sends fans and players down comparatively unbeaten paths instead has an air of familiarity. Three matches — two all-English clashes and an all-French one — replicate domestic league rivalries. The fourth, in which Leicester hosts Stade Français, brings together teams that have met twice in this season’s pool stage and 11 times in competition history.

Yet there is still much to anticipate in a weekend that starts…

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