Racing 92 Champions Cup challenge worthwhile keeping an eye on

Racing 92 Champions Cup

For the last seven seasons in the Champions Cup, Racing 92 have reached the knockout stages in Europe’s elite competition. Unfortunately, they have never won any European silverware despite losing in three finals to Saracens, Leinster and Exeter.

Although last season’s run was underwhelming after a quarter-final defeat against Bordeaux Bègles at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, however, they started this season’s campaign with a thumping 45-14 win over a Northampton Saints side that included a number of internationals.

So, with their first home game against the Ospreys in round 2, will this finally be the year where Racing 92 are crowned European champions?

Racing 92 Champions Cup challenge

The forwards

There is no argument that the Racing 92 squad is one of the best in Europe, with French internationals glittered everywhere with the odd Southern hemisphere star and British & Irish Lion in the mix.

It’s only the three French internationals in the props with Eddy Ben Arous, Cedate Gomes Sa and Hasseme Kolingar. Recently they announced the signing of Springbok Trevor Nyakane who can play on both sides of the scrum.

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Meanwhile, there’s a couple of options at hooker with international Camile Chat and promising youngster Teddy Baubigny. The only place of concern is at lock despite the likes of Bernard Le Roux and Boris Palu. The Parisian club have had to bring in Namibian international Anton Bresler as injury cover.

On the other hand, the backrow with Ibrahim Diallo and Wenceslas Laurent who scored a hattrick in Northampton, Yoan Tanga-Mangene has claimed the number 8 shirt but keep a close look out for academy graduates Anthime Hemery & Maxime Baudonne.

The backs

They have pair of French internationals at scrum-half with Maxime Machenaud and Teddy Iribaren although 19-year-old Noah Le Garrec was their first choice 9 before an injury. British & Irish Lion Finn Russell normally pulls the strings at fly-half with Fijian Ben Volavola and youngster Antoine Gibert as cover.

There’s an international starting centre pairing with Gael Fickou & Virmi Vakatawa both at the club, however, their starting place might be doubt with the impressive Henry Chavancy and Oliver Klemenzak just behind in the pecking order.

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The back three options that Racing have this season is nothing short of sensational, with Australian international Kurtley Beale, Argentine Juan Imhoff and Teddy Thomas all could fit in to a starting XV.

It leaves out Donovan Taofifenua who has been performing well since joining Racing from Clermont in 2020 and picked up his first French cap in the same year.

The verdict

Their exciting way of playing in attack will allow them to score many tries. However, they are missing a forward who just wants to spend 80 minutes tackling and being a workhorse for Racing. Laurent does that to an extent before he joins in with the rest of the side throwing the ball around. Michael Hooper would be the perfect candidate for the Parisian club if they want to steamroll every club side on the planet.

Maybe this season could be a little too much especially with the squads Toulouse, Bordeaux & La Rochelle have, but Racing will reach the knockouts Finn and co will want to be crowned European champions after all these years of knockout pain.

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