Friday 18 January 2019

Blues eye Aviva switch for Bath

Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson has earmarked Bath as the most likely club to prompt a move from the RDS for a big payday at the Aviva Stadium in the pool phase of next season's Heineken Cup.

"We would be very positive about Bath," said Dawson. "The Premiership big-brand names are well known over here and they will bring a lot of supporters with them. If we do go for a move, it will probably be the Bath fixture."

Overall, Leinster have to believe they have been handed a kind draw after last season's 'Pool of Death'.

French finalists Montpellier, Bath and Glasgow do not bring the same ominous feel as Clermont-Auvergne, Saracens and Racing Metro from last season.

"The best thing you could say is that we have not drawn two French clubs. On the face of it, it is better than last year. Some teams are tougher than others."

Montpellier are the obvious dark horses. They are a rising force in French rugby. Their coach, Fabien Galthie, is highly rated. They have a young squad unburdened by expectation or the marquee names of other French clubs.

"We have Montpellier," said Dawson. "They are something of an unknown from our point of view.

"They have a very good coach and they have just come off the back of the French Championship final. They are obviously no mugs."

Bath are a club in transition, dropping from an Aviva Premiership play-off fourth place in 2010 to fifth at the end of the past season.

Glasgow Warriors have suffered an appalling fall from grace, dropping like a stone from third in the Magners League last season to 11th this season.

"We have played Bath a number of times," added Dawson. "We know what Glasgow are like. It is like any of these pools. If you don't play well, you won't get out of it no matter who you are playing against."

Magners League champions Munster have been joined by Heineken Cup finalists Northampton, the Scarlets and Castres in what is an unintimidating pool.


Connacht CEO Gerry Kelly was bullish about being thrown into a pool with four-time winners Toulouse, Conor O'Shea's Harlequins, the Amlin Challenge Cup winners, and Premiership semi-finalists Gloucester.

"Commercially, it is a great draw for us," said Kelly. "Toulouse are one of the big Europeans teams. Harlequins and Gloucester will bring a big number of supporters."

First-time competitors Connacht will seek to increase their 7,500 capacity at The Sportsground in order to take full advantage of the extra revenue streams.

Heineken Cup quarter-finalists Ulster have been unlucky enough to be included with Leicester Tigers and Clermont-Auvergne in what could be termed the 'Pool of Death' for next season.

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