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Rugby News

Big-match preview: Racing 92 versus Tigers

Leicester Tigers head to Paris and the historic home of the 1924 Olympic Games at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir for the start of the European Champions Cup on Saturday.

European Cup finalists in 2016, Racing 92 host the Tigers in the opening fixture in Pool 4 with kick-off at 3.15pm UK time/4.15pm in Paris.

Tigers enter the club’s 21st season of top-flight European competition with a record of 92 victories from their previous 144 fixtures in the competition and with wins in their last four Aviva Premiership matches after defeat in the opening two rounds.

Racing, who reached the European Cup Final in 2016 after beating Tigers in the semi-final in Nottingham, were beaten at La Rochelle in the TOP14 last weekend. They have won three and lost four in the first phase of games in their domestic competition, including an opening weekend triumph against Castres Olympique who are also in their European pool and travel to Welford Road in Round 2.

Head coach Matt O’Connor said: “Racing have a fantastic squad, they are combative and very dangerous if you’re a bit loose. But what we have done in the last couple of weeks is reinforce the mentality of what it takes to win at the top level.

“A lot of the group were over there in Paris last year when we got beaten quite badly and we understand how much better we have to be to get a result.

“The intensity of how you play all the way is very important in Europe with just six games before you get to the knockouts. That makes every point massive.”

Team news was announced by both camps on Friday lunchtime, with Tigers recalling Graham Kitchener after injury, and welcoming Telusa Veainu and Ben Youngs back after illness led to their withdrawal from the line-up to face London Irish last weekend.

Racing include Remi Tales at fly-half with South Africa international Pat Lambie on the bench, though there is no place for Dan Carter. Joe Rokocoko and Juan Imhoff, who both starred in the semi-final between the clubs in 2016, are included in the backline.

The clubs have met just three times previously in the European Cup, all in the last two seasons with Racing winning a semi-final in Nottingham 2015/16 and both sides winning their home game in 2016/17.

In last season’s meeting in Paris, Tigers were beaten 34-3, the team’s heaviest defeat against TOP 14 opposition.

Racing have won three of their last four home games against Premiership opposition after defeat in each of their first four encounters with English sides in the competition.

Referee for Saturday is John Lacey from Ireland, assisted by countrymen Stuart Gaffikin and Paul Haycock. Television match official is Peter Fitzgibbon.

Tigers will be in the club’s home green kit in Paris on Saturday.