MONTPELLIER pulled off a bonus-point 37-26 home win over Exeter Chiefs this evening which secured their place in the last 16 of the European Champions Cup, at the expense of Glasgow Warriors, who now drop into the second-tier Challenge Cup, with the draw for the last 16 of that competition to be confirmed after its final round of pool matches on the weekend of 8th-10th April.
This is a major setback for Danny Wilson‘s side, and they will feel aggrieved that Montpellier have progressed to the knock-out stage having been awarded a bonus-point win over Leinster when the Irish province was forced to forfeit that match due to three players testing positive for Covid. Leinster then hammered the French side 89-7 in the return match last weekend, and Montpellier also lost 42-6 to Exeter Chiefs in round one, meaning the cancelled Leinster match was decisive.
Glasgow, meanwhile, played all four of their pool games, and miss out despite picking up a losing bonus-point away to last year’s beaten finalists La Rochelle in round one, then beating 2020 Champions Exeter Chiefs in round two. However, the bottom line is that they were a distant second best to Exeter away and La Rochelle at home in the return legs and are paying the price for that.
“I think this competition is truly frustrating,” said Warriors coach Wilson after Saturday night’s loss to La Rochelle at Scotstoun. “Teams can qualify without winning a game and I find that very different and very difficult. But it is what it is and the rules were made for Covid. I don’t necessarily agree with 28-0 results. To get a bonus-point win in this competition is a huge ask.
“We’ve played Exeter and La Rochelle twice. That’s four huge games. It is what it is and we just have to get on with it. For me, you don’t get Covid on purpose. We are all in a world where it has spread through everybody. Every team is going to have their day with it. We have had to rearrange games against Edinburgh.
“It’s difficult. I don’t know the answer so I can’t necessarily be critical but 28-0 does seem a bit unfair.
“It will still be good to be in the Challenge Cup, but the top end of Europe is where we want to be,” replied Wilson, when asked about the prospect of this doomsday scenario. “We don’t necessarily want to be in the Challenge Cup, but if we are then we will give it every shot to go and win it.”
Edinburgh’s place in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup was assured this weekend with the final round of pool matches still to go, thanks to their 66-3 win over Brive combined with results elsewhere going their way.