EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP LATEST: Ulster fail to make quarter-finals

Keep up to date with Ulster and the European Champions Cup on the News Letter website
Keep up to date with Ulster and the European Champions Cup on the News Letter website

Ulster’s brave efforts in doing all they could in their final Pool One game agaisnt Oyonnax in Belfast on Saturday proved not to be enough in the end to secure a place in the knockout stages of this season’s European Champions Cup.

Les Kiss’s side were 56-3 winners over the Top 14 side at Kingspan Stadium, securing the five match points they needed and also improving their aggregrate points difference significantly.

Ulster finished runners-up to Saracens in Pool One, the English Premiership side having already secured a home quarter-final after last week’s win over the Irish Province. On Saturday they defeated Toulouse to remain unbeaten in the pool stages.

Ulster finished with 18 points from their pool games.

On Sunday Stade Francais secured the bonus point over Leicester Tigers in Pool Four in Paris to push Ulster into ninth place in the rankings. Leicester had already qualified as group winners and a home quarter-final draw.

Results on Saturday did not go Ulster’s way and their hopes were left hanging by a thred going into the final games in Pool Four and Two on Sunday.

Wasps 51-10 drubbing of Leinster ensured their place in the last eight as winners of Pool Five with defending champions, Toulon, overcoming Bath at The Rec, to go through as one of the best runners-up. Toulon will be the sixth ranked team in the last eight.

Racing 92 won Pool Three in spite of losing to Glasgow Warriors, but crucially for Ulster Northampton Saints took a bonus point in their win over Scarlets to put them a point ahead of the Irish Province.

The English side could still miss out, along with Ulster, if results involving the games in Pool Two and Pool Four go a certain way on Sunday..

For Ulster to have qualified they needed Leicester to defeat Stade Francais, OR for the French side to win by seven or less points.

But they would then also have needed Exeter to defeat Ospreys in Pool Two OR Clermont to defeat Bordeaux but not score four tries OR Bordeaux to defeat Clermont.

Ulster’s failure to go through means there will not be an Irish Province in the last eight of Europe since 1997-98. Irish Province has not reached the quarter-finals in Europe.

Leinster finished bottom of their pool with one win from five games while Munster are expected to finish their campaign on a high with a win against Treviso in Italy on Sunday, but they had already been eliminated ahead of Round Four games.