As the temperatures in northern Europe rise this week the battle is on to see who can keep cool in the semi-final stages of the European competitions.
With the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations now a month behind us many of the stars of the Championship are in action in some huge matches for their clubs this weekend – here’s our preview of all the action.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
The weekend’s action kicks off on Friday night with an all-Aviva Premiership clash between Gloucester Rugby and Newcastle Falcons in a European Challenge Cup semi-final.
The match at Kingsholm feature’s Italy’s Jake Polledri in Gloucester’s back row, fresh from scoring a try against Harlequins last week.
Polledri will come up against Falcons man Gary Graham, who was named in England’s training squad ahead of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations but didn’t go on to make an appearance.
With England’s tour to South Africa coming up in June several others will be out to impress – for Gloucester Jason Woodward and Henry Trinder will want to continue their excellent seasons.
Scotland’s Chris Harris moves to wing in the Newcastle team as he plays outside Maxime Mermoz and Josh Matavesi in the centres.
IRELAND V WALES
There are four matches on Saturday but the day is headlined by a monumental-looking clash between Leinster and Scarlets at Dublin’s RDS Arena.
The Leinster side contains many of Ireland’s Grand Slam stars – Rob Kearney, Devin Toner, Johnny Sexton and Dan Leavy among them.
And the team made up predominately of Ireland stars will come up against one containing many of Wales’ 2018 NatWest 6 Nations players as the Scarlets gear up for the Champions Cup semi-final.
Rhys Patchell is at full-back with Leigh Halfpenny on the wing, Scott Williams and Hadleigh Parkes are in midfield while Ken Owens captains from hooker.
Also on Saturday, Wales’ Gareth Anscombe and Josh Navidi have been named in Cardiff Blues’ line-up to face Pau in the other Challenge Cup semi-final.
If much of Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning team are in action for Leinster on Saturday then many others will also represent Munster against Racing 92 in Bordeaux on Sunday.
An almighty clash is expected in this Champions Cup semi-final with both teams playing some excellent rugby in the pool stages.
Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony skippers Munster and he’ll be ably assisted by national teammates Keith Earls, Conor Murray and CJ Stander.
Racing, meanwhile, contain a whole host of France’s 2018 NatWest 6 Nations stars including the likes of wing Teddy Thomas, scrum-half Maxime Machenaud and back-row Wenceslas Lauret.