European rugby is back with a bang this week! Talking about being back – how good does it feel to be able to refer to European Rugby’s showpiece event as the Heineken (Champions) Cup again? It just feels right somehow – a long lost friend is coming home. Unrecognisable from the early days that followed the inception of professionalism – the Heineken cup has grown and blossomed into what we love today. The shaping of the tournament in people’s hearts and minds was helped in no small way by Sky; with the assistance of some epic moments and fine pieces of skill they turned every European weekend into a grand spectacle that was loved by the rugby community all across the continent.

Having recently undergone a restructure, the competition started to lose some of its ‘je ne sais quoi’, but in recent seasons has started to live up to its former glory once more. In a World Cup year, talent will inevitably come to the fore and international worth will be shown in the big match environment.

Over the coming months we can expect exciting and competitive matches in rugby fortresses packed with colourful fans from expectant Ireland across the United Kingdom and down into the passionate reaches of the Mediterranean. Since taking over the coverage of the English Premiership – BT Sport have revolutionised how Rugby has been broadcast with knowledgeable in game commentary, insightful punditry and interesting tactical run-throughs. Topped off with a state-of-the art studio and visuals, they’ve really pushed the game presentation forward. For the first time since the re-structure BT is the only pay per view platform showing the matches – and with a little help from Channel 4, they certainly have what it takes to pick up the baton from Sky and make the Heineken Cup the spectacle that it once was! To be fair, the pools that we have this year make their job much easier:

The presence of nine former champions (four of which are in pool 1) and many more grand clubs will certainly add a little bit of spice, but it is certainly hard to look past the relentless Leinster and Saracens outfits at this stage. However, the likes of Munster, Exeter, Scarlets, Glasgow and Racing 92 won’t let them take the title without a fight. This could be the best year for the Heineken Cup in a long while; and one thing is certain – there are going to be plenty of talking points!..

Written by James Jones – 12/10/18