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OJO'S INSIDE LINE: Amlin is quality assured
2:00pm Friday 25th January 2013 in Sport
Everybody will have their opinions on the make-up of the last eight of the Heineken Cup and pick their likely winners from that.
For me, the French clubs – namely Toulon and Clermont Auvergne – remain in the driving seat this season but what really caught my eye after the weekend games was the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Just a quick glance down the list of quarter finalists is a real eye-opener.
For starters, four-time Heineken Cup winners Toulouse are in there, facing fellow French side Perpignan.
Then you have three-time Heineken winners – and 2012 champions – Leinster travelling to Wasps, themselves two-time winners of Europe’s top competition.
And that’s before you get to Gloucester’s match-up with two-time Heineken Cup runners-up Biarritz or Bath, themselves former Heineken Cup winners, against Parisian side Stade Francais, also runners up twice.
If I was someone with tickets to any of those matches, I wouldn’t be unhappy about it and the sponsors must be rubbing their hands at the quality in the last eight.
The decision to see the three next runners-up from the Heineken Cup pools drop into the Amlin quarter finals raised some eyebrows when it was brought in, but the ERC will feel they’ve been vindicated after that draw.
It’s become a very smart decision and gives that competition a little more oomph.
At this stage of both competitions, home advantage is very important.
Eight or nine times out of 10 you’d expect to see the home side win their quarter finals at home.
It really is a huge advantage.
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