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Category: Castres

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Exeter keep slim Champions Cup hopes alive with win over Castres

• Exeter 34-12 Castres• Chiefs will need to beat Munster in Limerick next SaturdayExeter kept alive their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final hopes with a 34-12 bonus-point victory over Castres at Sandy Park.But the Gallagher Premiership leaders still…

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Rugby union: talking points from the European Champions Cup

Gloucester dogged by inconsistency, Edinburgh and Glasgow head for the last eight and Leinster have look of championsThe pool of champions has polarised. Leinster, for all Toulouse’s attempts to recapture past glories, are the team in control, even if …

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Champions Cup preview: Carbery to start for Munster; Kruis back at Saracens

• Graham Kitchener makes return for Leicester• Newcastle ring changes against Edinburgh Related: Premiership clubs in danger of building mental block about Europe | Robert Kitson Continue reading…

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Rugby union: talking points from the European Champions Cup

Old glories on the rise with Dan Cole reviving Leicester forward power and Toulouse finding European title hunger once more Related: Six Nations set to unveil HSBC as championship’s new title sponsor Continue reading…

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Rugby union: talking points from the European Champions Cup

Old glories on the rise with Dan Cole reviving Leicester forward power and Toulouse finding European title hunger once more Related: Six Nations set to unveil HSBC as championship’s new title sponsor Continue reading…

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Exeter’s Gareth Steenson on form but 14-man Castres still too strong

• Pool Two: Castres 29-25 Exeter• Exeter Chiefs again struggle in Champions Cup pool stageExeter have never won more than three matches in the Champions Cup pool stage. They will need to win in Munster in January if they are to improve that record, and…

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Rugby union: talking points from the European Champions Cup

Toulon’s nightmare speaks to French woes, Saracens are miles ahead of the pack and Freddie Burns had a weekend to forgetIt seemed as if all talking points would have to revolve around the 52-3 destruction on Friday night of the former multiple champion…

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Danny Cipriani shines as Gloucester down Castres in front of Eddie Jones

• Gloucester 19-14 Castres• Fly-half scores 14 points in front of England head coachGloucester became the first English club to win a game in this season’s Champions Cup as they beat Castres 19-14 at Kingsholm.And fly-half Danny Cipriani led from the f…

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England’s finest seek Champions Cup atonement at feet of Leinster | Paul Rees

Wasps have the first shot at the imposing holders in Dublin on Friday but Saracens look ready to wrest back the trophyThe pressing question in European rugby union as the Champions Cup starts is how do you stop Leinster winning it for a record fifth ti…

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European Champions Cup: pool-by-pool guide to the weekend games

• Leinster’s Seán O’Brien to miss start of Six Nations after hip operation• Liam Williams starts for Saracens in make-or-break trip to OspreysChris Robshaw is absent from the Harlequins team to face Wasps after picking up what the club have described a…

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s European action

Of the five Champions Cup groups, Pool 5 looks like going down to the final weekend – with one point separating the top three: Bath, Toulon and ScarletsTake nothing away from Wasps’ hugely impressive victory against La Rochelle but the absence of Victo…

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s European action

La Rochelle shine on the biggest stage, England’s finest freeze and the Welsh dragon roars as crunch time approaches in Champions CupHave a side ever taken to Europe as well as La Rochelle? It is supposed to require years of failure and frustration – o…

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Leicester top pool as Telusa Veainu scores hat-trick against Castres

• Leicester 54-29 Castres• Tigers score seven tries to kickstart campaignEllis Genge finds himself behind two Lions in the England pecking order but on this form the Tigers’ loosehead prop may not be there for long. Leicester romped to a seven-try win …

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Bitter-sweet return for Leigh Halfpenny as Scarlets lose at Toulon

• Toulon 21-20 Scarlets• Halfpenny registers 15 points but late penalty miss proves costlyLeigh Halfpenny scored 15 points on his return to Toulon, but his penalty miss 10 minutes from the end cost the Welsh region, who had lost their previous nine awa…

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Sport picture of the day: Castres’ Rory Kockott gets a pass away

Rory Kockott attempts to get another Castres attack underway as the French side visit Franklins’ Gardens to take on Northampton Saints in the European Champions Cup. Kockott kicked three penalties and a conversion as Castres fought back from 13 points down to level in the second half before Tom Wood’s try gave Saints a 28-21 win. Castres’ defeat ended their hopes of a place in the quarter-finals

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European Rugby Champions Cup: talking points from the weekend’s action

Dylan Hartley’s greatest opponent is himself, Jamie George and Owen Farrell can both replace him and it was a good weekend for the Irish

If Dylan Hartley had not been sent off we would all be talking about Leinster’s excellence. Perhaps we still should be; even when they were down to their third-choice fly-half the Irish side looked revitalised, for which credit must go both to the players and, in particular, their reshuffled coaching panel. The contrast with Northampton’s flat-footed start was particularly glaring, as the home skipper Tom Wood made abundantly clear after his side’s 37-10 home drubbing. Ultimately though, Hartley’s 58th-minute red card for a forearm smash to the back of Sean O’Brien’s head was the kind of moment that shapes perceptions and undermines career prospects. Excuses were non-existent: it had not been a dirty game, O’Brien had already been tackled and had his back to his oncoming assailant, who had been on the field for less than six minutes. Given Hartley’s own past concussion issues it was doubly crass, reckless behaviour.

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European Rugby Champions Cup: talking points from the weekend’s action

Dylan Hartley’s greatest opponent is himself, Jamie George and Owen Farrell can both replace him and it was a good weekend for the Irish

If Dylan Hartley had not been sent off we would all be talking about Leinster’s excellence. Perhaps we still should be; even when they were down to their third-choice fly-half the Irish side looked revitalised, for which credit must go both to the players and, in particular, their reshuffled coaching panel. The contrast with Northampton’s flat-footed start was particularly glaring, as the home skipper Tom Wood made abundantly clear after his side’s 37-10 home drubbing. Ultimately though, Hartley’s 58th-minute red card for a forearm smash to the back of Sean O’Brien’s head was the kind of moment that shapes perceptions and undermines career prospects. Excuses were non-existent: it had not been a dirty game, O’Brien had already been tackled and had his back to his oncoming assailant, who had been on the field for less than six minutes. Given Hartley’s own past concussion issues it was doubly crass, reckless behaviour.

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s Champions Cup action

Northampton’s beating at Castres was worryingly unsurprising, Williams injury a problem for Scarlets and Toulon resemble ‘Barbarians on a bad day’

One of the most extraordinary turnarounds in rugby history was the manner in which Leinster overturned a 16-point half-time deficit in the 2011 Heineken Cup final, which had flattered them, so comprehensively had they been outplayed by Northampton. At the time we marvelled at the transformation of Leinster in the second half, eventually triumphing 33-22, but perhaps we should have been more alive to the capitulation out of nowhere of the Saints. Since that day, during a period that has seen them crowned champions of England, reach another Premiership final and two European quarter-finals, they have suffered humiliations in every European campaign. The following season they lost 41-22 in Castres and then 51-36 to Munster in a supposedly home tie in Milton Keynes. The season after that they lost properly at home to Ulster, 25-6, the most modest of this rollcall of indignities, but as comprehensive as any of them. Then it was a 40-7 humiliation at home to Leinster in the 2013-14 season, before Racing took over, smashing them 32-8 at Franklin’s Gardens in 2015 and 33-3 in Paris last season. In that context, Castres’s 41-7 victory over them on Saturday was nothing out of the ordinary. And that is the most concerning aspect of all. Michael Aylwin

Match report: Castres 41-7 Northampton
Wood questions Saints’ commitment after heavy defeat at Castres

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Tom Wood questions Saints’ commitment after heavy defeat at Castres

• Northampton captain says his side can take ‘very little’ from match
• ‘Tactics are irrelevant if you don’t bring energy’

Tom Wood has questioned the commitment of his team-mates after Northampton suffered the latest indignity of their horrible start to the season, conceding 40 points at hitherto struggling Castres.

“I’ve got to take my share of responsibility for it, as captain, but it’s across the board. If a player’s not up for it, there’s not much you can say or do,” Wood said.

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Northampton humiliated as David Smith inspires Castres in Champions Cup

• Castres 41-7 Northampton
• Dylan Hartley returns from injury but Saints concede six tries

They hoped they had reached their nadir but it seems Northampton have further to fall. Having responded to the departure of their attack coach, Alex King, the week before with a gutsy home win against mighty French opponents at Franklin’s Gardens, mighty French opponents in France proved far too much. Even in their darkest, most try-phobic periods, Northampton have generally been able to count on a solid platform up front. Now even that seems to have deserted them. The 40 points Castres posted on them was in no way flattering – to either side.

“We were well beaten,” conceded Jim Mallinder, Northampton’s director of rugby. “They were too physical for us. We didn’t get on the front foot at all in the first half, and what little ball we got we didn’t look after. The frustrating thing is we’ve shown against big, physical packs that we can compete, but today we just didn’t at all. We were chasing shadows. We got to half-time and it was really game over already.”

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