Challenge Cup power rankings

LLANELLI, WALES - JANUARY 11: Baptiste Serin of Toulon under pressure from Steff Evans of Scarlets during the European Rugby Challenge Cup Round 5 match between the Scarlets and RC Toulon at the Parc Y Scarlets on January 11, 2020 in Llanelli, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

With the Challenge Cup pool stages over it’s time for the final round of power rankings. Robert Rees ranks each team as the top eight head into the quarter finals.

1st – Toulon – +1

Toulon have really come alive in the final two games, putting the Scarlets to the sword in tricky conditions with a dominant display from their forwards. They then backed this up to finish as top seed and will take on the West Walians for a third time this competition as a result.

2nd – Bordeaux – +2

The Frenchmen nilled Wasps in the final game to seal what was a brilliant campaign so far. Only Edinburgh took points off them and they finish as third seeds, behind Toulon and Bristol, but their dominance sees them take second in our rankings.

3rd – Bristol – -2

Dropping two places isn’t an indication of a bad team, but more of how convincing they have been, or unconvincing as the case may be, compared to their rivals. Zebre made it difficult for Pat Lam’s men, but they top their group and will host the Dragons as a reward.

4th – Leicester – -1

The Tigers drop one spot, mainly due to the brilliance of some of those above them. A tight ending against Pau leaves them with questions over their defence, but they were solid enough against Cardiff in the previous week to get through with a home tie.

5th – Castres – +3

Castres started slowly in their campaign with a loss away to the Dragons, but have came strong since, not losing since. They have been sublime at times and ground out key results and crucial times.

6th – Edinburgh – -1

Richard Cockerill’s men end their pool stage campaign unbeaten and can take great pride in their win to nil versus Agen in their final game. They now travel to Bordeaux and will have confidence of replicating the draw they took against them in round two.

7th – Dragons – -1

Dean Ryan’s men crawled across the finish line, but can be proud to make the final eight with such a low budget. Their final day bonus point victory over Enisei ensured they’ll have an Anglo-Welsh tie at Ashton Gate.

8th – Scarlets – -1

Brad Mooar’s men were looking like lost souls after their defeat at home to Toulon had sent them into qualification jeopardy. However, a thumping performance against London Irish ensured they would be playing knockout rugby this season.

9th – Pau – +3

Pau seemed out of it two weeks ago, but a win over Calvisano set them back on track before going into a crucial game against Leicester. The win seemed like it could be enough, but other results didn’t fall their way.

10th – Cardiff – (-)

Cardiff hold tenth following a fantastic win against Calvisano in round six. Their loss to Leicester the week before showed their defence was an issue and it meant they couldn’t reach the final eight.

11th – Worcester – -2

The Warriors have fielded some inexperienced sides this campaign and as a result have fallen short. A disappointing end against Castres not following their win over bottom of the pile Enisei.

12th – Brive – -1

The Top14 outfit haven’t really offered much in this season’s campaign. It was a solid showing for a side sitting ninth in their domestic duties.

13th – Zebre – +3

A rapid rise in the rankings for Michael Bradley’s side due to their gritty performances against Stade and Bristol in their final outings. A draw against the pool leaders at home to end their campaign can boost their Pro14 hopes.

14th – Wasps – (-)

Wasps ended their Challenge Cup with a disappointing performance against an in-form Bordeaux. Failing to score wouldn’t have pleased Dai Young who can be relieved his side aren’t in a relegation battle anymore.

15th – Stade Francais – (-)

Stade’s involvement in their Top14 relegation battle has affected their Challenge Cup push, and as a result they finished fourth in the pool with just one win to their name. They looked blunt in attack and leaked far too many points (156).

16th – Bayonne – +1

Bayonne rise up the ranks, mainly in light of those around them being poor. A final weekend drubbing at the hands of Toulon summing up their rather lame campaign.

17th – London Irish – -4

The largest plunge by a side in our final week of rankings, Irish have looked dismal when the pool promised so much. Perhaps they spent too much time with an eye on Premiership survival, but they never got going on any front.

18th – Calvisano – +1

The Italians rise to eighteenth following some plucky performances. Pau and Cardiff proved far too strong, but they showed guts and looked as if they wanted to be there.

19th – Enisei – -1

Enisei finish in the penultimate spot after lacking enough quality to punish opponents. They couldn’t sustain any attack and were plucked apart defensively by some fine attacking displays. Deserved a point somewhere along the line.

20th – Agen – (-)

Agen have flopped this season. Stade have climbed above them to drop them down to the bottom of the Top14 and they have looked disinterested in the Challenge Cup. Deserved to finish on zero points.

 

“Main photo credit”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.