“I think the best challenge will be that of Biarritz at Lansdowne Road, because they have a team that’s capable of overcoming the task that awaits them.” says French coach Bernard Laporte.
France have the best representation of any nation in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals the weekend after next – and national coach Bernard Laporte is tipping France to go on and also have a major involvement in the semi-finals two weeks later.
Toulouse, the 1996 champions, reigning French champions Biarritz Olympique and Perpignan will fly the Tricolor; England have defending Heineken Cup holders Leicester Tigers and 2000 champions Northampton Saints; Irish eyes will be on Munster and Leinster Lions with Llanelli, once again left to carry the hopes of Wales.
“It is excellent for French rugby that we have three Heineken Cup quarter-finalists who are all in a position to qualify for the last four,” said Laporte.
“As a management team these Heineken Cup matches, along with the knock-out phases of the French Championship, will be vital in our observation of the players that could form the French World Cup squad.
“There are still around 10 places to be grabbed for the squad for Australia. Everything should be decided over the next couple of months.
“I know the French teams still involved are going to put everything into their European matches and the rest of France will be behind them all the way.
” Toulouse are lucky they have a home quarter-final against Northampton while Biarritz and Perpignan will have to fight it out away from home, against Leinster and Llanelli.
“I think the best challenge will be that of Biarritz at Lansdowne Road, because they have a team that’s capable of overcoming the task that awaits them. But, at the end of the day, all the teams have a 50-50 chance.