Northampton can take Toulon’s crown
Friday night see’s the start of a new chapter in  European rugby as the Heineken Cup is replaced by the European Champions Cup. Heavyweights from across the continent will do battle and aim to wrestle the crown away from two time winners Toulon.The defending champions are rightfully the favourites for the competition and should be take very seriously. They have the deepest squad in Europe and one of the most star studded teams ever seen in the game. But without legendary fly-half Jonny Wilkinson to keep the scoreboard ticking there is a chance for teams to upset them. At 11/4 they seem too short to achieve history and win a third consecutive title.


One side who are primed for a run and Europe’s premier competition are the Northampton Saints. Jim Mallinders men narrowly beat Saracens in last seasons Aviva Premiership Final, and now they have reached the top of the domestic game they can finally reach the top of the club game and win the ECC. Their powerful and dynamic pack are a match for anyone in the competition and with the likes of George North and Ben Foden in the back-line they wont have trouble finding the line.

The group doesn’t look the most straightforward with French giants Racing Metro and the unbeaten Ospreys to contend with, but at Franklins Gardens it is hard to see any of these sides being able to cope with the physicality and power of the Saints. The struggles are likely to come on the road with a tough game away at Racing first up, but if they can get something from that they will take a lot of confidence into the rest of the tournament.

Other names like Leinster (8/1), Clermont (9/1) and Saracens (9/1) will all be there or there abouts, but all these sides have question marks hanging over them. Clermont can never seem to win the big games, Saracens were physically battered in last years final and Leinster have the unenviable task of replacing Brian O’Driscoll.


That is why I am keen on Northampton’s chances, as a team they are now really coming into their prime and I think 7/1 is a fantastic price for such a talented team.

In the top tryscorer market Toulon winger Drew Mitchell looks way overpriced at 40/1. The former Wallaby is one of the most intelligent wingers in the game and has scored some big tries in big games for the French champions and with the service he is likely to get it is a hard price to ignore.

Best Bets
Northampton to win the ECC 7/1 (Betfair) 2pt win
Drew Mitchell top tryscorer 40/1 (Ladbrokes) 1pt e/w