Amlin Challenge Cup: Quins and Wasps set for showdown
Aviva Premiership sides go head-to-head as both teams look to secure Heineken Cup rugby for next season
After almost being thrown out of European competition following the Bloodgate scandal a year-and-a-half ago, Harlequins have a real chance at silverware in the Amlin Challenge Cup this season.
Quins face Aviva Premiership rivals London Wasps in the quarter-final at The Stoop on Friday with both teams looking to secure Heineken Cup rugby next season.
Neither side can rely on qualification through the Premiership play-offs as they currently sit sixth and eighth, but an Amlin Challenge Cup triumph would secure a place in the lucrative Heineken Cup for next season.
It will be the fourth time the two clubs have met this season. Quins have the better record with two wins and a draw, but the 38-13 victory in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in Abu Dhabi will mean nothing ahead of this European showdown.
Quins captain Chris Robshaw faces a race to be fit after suffering a deep cut to his leg in the Premiership clash with Leicester last Saturday.
Meanwhile, two-time Heineken Cup winners Wasps will be without 23-year-old centre Dominic Waldouck after he injured his Achilles tendon in the 25-12 loss to London Irish.
Wasps director of rugby Leon Holden told Press Association Sport: “It’s [Friday against Harlequins] a huge must-win game. We’ll only have one training run on Wednesday so with all the injuries it’ll all be down to good old-fashioned guts.”
Elsewhere, former Heineken Cup winners Brive and Munster clash in the Stade Municipal on Saturday with both sides looking to join the only three teams to have won both competitions – Bath, Northampton and Wasps.
Brive or Munster, who have never played each other before, will be rewarded with a home semi-final tie against either Harlequins or Wasps at the end of April.
Munster’s Irish fly-half Ronan O’Gara, who has scored in his last 80 Heineken Cup fixtures and is the only player to score over 1,000 points in Europe’s elite club competition, will be on hand to help the Irish province’s bid to reach the semis.
“Our discipline will have to be almost perfect because on the other side there is a world class goal kicker who will punish us,” said Brive centre Fabrice Estebanez.
Top 14 sides dominate the other ties, with two all-French quarter-finals. James Haskell’s Stade Francais will host Montpellier in Paris on Friday after Clermont Auvergne beat La Rochelle 23-13 on Thursday.