La Rochelle is steeped in history, whether back to the days of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 12th century or indeed to the presence of the Huguenots in the 17th. A thriving but small Maritime port was never supposed to carry off the Blue Riband trophy in club rugby, although try telling that to Toulon!
What a week for Champions in two of our major sports – and a prelude for an unprecedented summer of sport after two years of Pandemic-driven abstinence.
I feel compelled to reflect on last weekend’s European action simply because the quality of what was on offer reached a new record in my view and also there were some conclusions reached I feel are premature. I know I am biased but the adage of the European Cup being like International rugby played in club jerseys was never truer.
The Double-Header weekends of the Heineken Champions Cup have been one of the season’s highlights so far. The last 16 format created supreme drama and stunning quality between Europe’s top clubs. These formats and dates have been moved around partly through Covid driven necessity and partly in a constant search to improve the competition. I know that personally, having spent many months at that particular negotiating table. You cannot stand still, and with both the domestic leagues and International tournaments rightly seeking to generate more relevance and interest, the world’s premier club competition is doing the same- and to great effect.