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Rugby News

Preview | Tigers at French league leaders in opener

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Leicester Tigers visit Bordeaux this afternoon for the club’s first Heineken Champions Cup tie in almost three years.

It is also the club’s first-ever meeting with Bordeaux-Bègles who sit in top spot in the French Top 14 after 12 rounds of action following a 17-7 win over previous leaders Toulouse last weekend.

The hosts go into their sixth season as Champions Cup qualifiers among the tournament’s favourites according to the pundits after a run to the semi-finals last year and a top-four finish in their domestic competition.

Tigers return to the Champions Cup after two seasons playing in the Challenge Cup, reaching the semi-final in in 2019/20 and then the Final last season.

Steve Borthwick’s team are unbeaten in the opening 12 games this season in league and cup, beating defending Premiership champions Harlequins in front of a sell-out Mattioli Woods Welford Road crowd last weekend.

Guy Porter, who is among 11 members of the Tigers matchday squad preparing for his Champions Cup debut at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, said: “It’s a different sort of experience to travel to France, but it doesn’t matter what competition it is in, we want to get better at what defines our team.

“It was a good experience to reach a European Final last season, it was a pretty young group and there were guys like myself who have not been involved in those knockout games before. It all helps you to learn about yourself and how to impose your game against other sides you don’t come across in the Premiership.

“Bordeaux are doing very well in their league competition and you can see the quality across their team. It is going to be a big challenge for us but it is an exciting one. It’s what you want to be involved in European competition for.”

Bryce Hegarty, Hosea Saumaki, Matt Scott and Jack van Poortvliet are included in the Tigers backine, with Tommy Reffell and George Martin recalled to the starting pack.

Leicester’s only win in their last 10 Champions Cup matches was against the Scarlets in October 2018 and they have not won away from home in the tournament since a trip to Munster in Limerick in 2015.

Tigers did, though, win on their most recent visit to France, beating Bayonne 28-20 in the Challenge Cup 12 months ago when Tommy Reffell, Dan Kelly and Kini Murimurivalu were the tryscorers.

Match referee is Andrew Brace from Ireland.

Tigers will wear the club’s traditional colours of green, white and red.

There is live coverage of the game on BT Sport, or keep up to date with events using the club’s Matchday Live service on app and website. And look out for full post-match reaction on the club channels.

Tigers are on home turf in Round 2 against Irish visitors Connacht next Sunday (December 19). Kick-off at Mattioli Woods Welford Road is at 1.00pm and match tickets are available now. Book online, in person or by phoning the ticket office on 0116 319 8888 (option 2). Or book a matchday hospitality package by calling the team on 0116 2171 215.

How the Heineken Champions Cup works.

Round 1 in full

Friday: Bristol Bears v Scarlets (28-0 declared win following game cancellation), Northampton Saints v Racing 92 (1.00pm)

Saturday: Union Bordeaux-Bègles v Leicester Tigers (4.15pm local/3.15pm UK), Leinster Rugby v Bath Rugby (3.15pm), ASM Clermont Auvergne v Ulster (6.30pm local, 5.30pm UK), Exeter Chiefs v Montpellier (8.00pm)

Sunday: Ospreys v Sale Sharks (1.00pm), Connacht Rugby v Stade Francais Paris (1.00pm), Wasps v Munster Rugby (3.15pm), Stade Rochelais v Glasgow Warriors (4.15pm local/3.15pm UK), Castres Olympique v Harlequins (6.30pm local/5.30pm UK)