Who to shout for in Round 1

The new format makes it even harder to know who to shout for in the other games.

Since the teams are now split into two pools with four qualifiers from each, with no best runners-up, the results in the other Pool are of supreme indifference to us (except from the point of view of potential Quarter Final opponents), so Connacht fans can just sit back and enjoy those.

As for Connacht’s pool, it’s a bit early to say in most cases. As mentioned before, sharing the points about is key to having a chance of coming through the pack. Ideally you want three teams to win all around them while the points in the other games are shared, giving a shot at fourth spot and perhaps a meeting with Leinster. My previous suggestion that Glasgow or Gloucester could be dark horses given their pairing with Lyon now looks very wide of the mark given their starts to their respective domestic seasons.

One result that would definitely help would be for Clermont to win away to Bristol. If Connacht could then beat Bristol the following weekend (a basic requirement for us to have any chance), Pat Lam’s side might consider themselves effectively out of contention, which could only help our prospects in Ashton Gate.

After that, it’s probably best if Exeter and Toulouse keep winning, as they’ll probably be in the top 3 and if the rest go with the home team, to keep the points spread thinner.

So the preferred winners (in bold) are (without much conviction):

Ulster v Toulouse

Bristol Bears v ASM Clermont Auvergne

Lyon v Gloucester

Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow Warriors

Munster v Harlequins

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