Dupont vs Murray and Ryan returns as Europe reaches business end

Dupont Ntamack
A whole host of Guinness Six Nations stars are in action this weekend as the European competitions reaches the last eight, with fascinating ties in both the Heineken Champions Cup and the European Challenge Cup.

A whole host of Guinness Six Nations stars are in action this weekend as the European competitions reaches the last eight, with fascinating ties in both the Heineken Champions Cup and the European Challenge Cup.

Munster host Toulouse in the first of the Champions Cup quarter-finals, and there are several of France’s Grand Slam Champions in action.

Antoine Dupont starts at scrum half with teammate Romain Ntamack outside him, while Thomas Ramos starts at full-back.

Julien Marchand is one of six Grand Slam-winning forwards in the Toulouse 23, with Thibaud Flament and François Cros starting in the back row and Peato Mauvaka, Cyril Baille and Anthony Jelonch set to come on as replacements.

Munster themselves have a few Triple Crown winners among the squad, as Conor Murray lines up against Dupont, with Joey Carbery outside him in an all-international half-back battle.

Elsewhere, Peter O’Mahony starts at blindside flanker, while other Irish internationals Keith Earls, Colin Farrell, Simon Zebo and Niall Scannell finish off a strong Munster side.

The winner of that clash in Dublin will face whoever comes out on top when Leicester Tigers host Leinster in a potential European classic at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

England stars Freddie Steward, George Ford and Ben Youngs form a part of a strong backline for the Tigers, while Ellis Genge captains the side, and Ollie Chessum lines up in the second row.

Leinster meanwhile have a virtually all-Irish international side, with Jamison Gibson-Park and Jonny Sexton forming an experienced half-back pairing, and there are plenty of weapons for the duo to deploy, with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose forming the midfield, while James Lowe and Hugo Keenan make up the back three with Ireland Sevens star Jimmy O’Brien.

In the forwards, there are many more Triple Crown-winning Ireland players, as Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong form a very strong front row, with the returning James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan making up the rest of an incredible Leinster pack.

La Rochelle then take on Montpellier in an all-French affair at the Stade Marcel Deflandre and there are a few French internationals to catch the eye.

Jonathan Danty lines up at outside centre for the home side, while Dany Priso, Pierre Bourgarit and Uini Atonio make up an all-French international front row.

Superstar No.8 Gregory Alldritt starts against Englishman Zac Mercer in a mouth-watering battle.

On Sunday, Racing 92 face Sale Sharks at Paris La Défense Arena for the final place in the last four.

Several of the biggest Guinness Six Nations stars are in action, with France Grand Slam hero Gaël Fickou lining up at outside centre and Scotland fly-half Finn Russell at fly-half.

Meanwhile, the Sharks travel to Paris with the likes of Tom Curry and Bevan Rodd in the forwards, while Manu Tuilagi starts at inside centre in a tantalising midfield battle.

In the Challenge Cup, Gloucester Rugby meet Saracens at Kingsholm in an all-English encounter.

Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit looks to continue his form for Gloucester, with Scotland centre Chris Harris starting in the centres, outside compatriot Adam Hastings.

Saracens name a strong side packed with internationals as they look to reach the last four, with Owen Farrell starting at fly-half, with Wales centre Nick Tompkins and England star Elliot Daly combining in the midfield and Scotland’s Sean Maitland starting on the wing.

In the forwards, Jamie George starts at hooker, while Maro Itoje lines up in the second row, with Ben Earl and Billy Vunipola starting in the back row.

On Saturday, Edinburgh host Wasps at the DAM Health Stadium, with Blair Kinghorn starting at fly-half.He is joined by fellow Scotland internationals Mark Bennett, Magnus Bradbury, Grant Gilchrist and WP Nel, while Pierre Schoeman is on the bench.

England second row Joe Launchbury will lead his side, with Brad Shields and Jack Willis on the flanks, while Dan Robson starts at scrum-half.

In the other game on Saturday, Lyon host Glasgow and all eyes will be on the battle of the tighthead props, as Demba Bamba collides with Zander Fagerson.

Dylan Cretin also starts at blindside flanker for the home side, while for Glasgow, they are boosted by Scottish internationals Sione Tuipulotu and Ali Price in the backs.

On Sunday, Toulon host London Irish in the final match of the quarter-final stages.

Toulon are led by France captain Charles Ollivon, while superstar winger Gabin Villière will be looking to steal the headlines again after his try-scoring caught the eye during the 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

For London Irish, Scotland super sub Ben White makes a start at scrum-half, with Australian Nick Phipps named as a replacement this week.