The European Rugby Challenge Cup is a second-tier rugby union competition held annually. The teams that participate in the Challenge Cup are clubs from five of the six nations (excluding Scotland) that play in the Six Nations Championship. Clubs from Romania and Russia are also competing in this tournament.

This year’s European Rugby Challenge Cup is the fifth edition of the tournament and the 23rd second-tier rugby club competition including its predecessor, the te European Challenge Cup. The first round of action started last October 12, 2018, and the final will be on May 10, 2019, at St. James’ Park in Newcastle in the United Kingdom.

“Trophy" Tournament Format

A total of 20 sides qualified for the 2019 European Rugby Challenge Cup, with 18 squads qualifying from the Gallagher Premiership, Guinness Pro 14 and Top 14, based on their domestic league records. The remaining two competitors qualify via the Continental Shield competition.

The 20 teams were then divided into five pools of four team per pool to arrive at the teams who will play in the quarterfinals. Teams play each pool member twice-on at home and one away from home. The winner of the five pools plus the top three runners-up then advanced to the quarterfinals stage.

The eight qualifiers were then ranked according to group stage points earned and paired 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5. The higher-seeded team hosted the knockout round of 8. The remaining four teams met in the semifinals played last April 19-21. The surviving two teams will then meet in the final on May 10, 2019.

“Trophy" Road To The Final

After knocking out the Bristol Bears 39-15 in the quarterfinal round, #2 seed La Rochelle advanced to the semifinals against the Sale Sharks. The Sharks traveled to Stade Marcel-Deflandre armed with two wins in France this season. The hosts had to work hard to earn a thrilling 24-20 win and advance to their first ever European Challenge Cup Final.

Gregory Aldritt’s second-half try restored the lead for the home team and ultimately won the game. The home team finished a man down after Jules Favre was yellow-carded in the 80th minute for foul play during a scrappy exchange. Sale’s last-minute attack was foiled, enabling La Rochelle to escape with a hard-earned win.

What are the Moneyline Odds?

ASM Clermont Auvergne


La Rochelle


Odds from Bovada as of 4/29/19

What are the Spread Odds?

ASM Clermont Auvergne

-6.5 (-115)

La Rochelle

+6.5 (-125)

Odds from Bovada as of 4/29/19

Top-seeded ASM Clermont Auvergne also went through a thrilling semifinal match against Harlequins. Clermont reached the semifinals after an easy 61-38 win over the Northampton Saints. The three-time Challenge Cup winners Harlequins threatened Clermont with a second-half comeback with tries from Chris Robshaw and replacement James Lang.

After Alex Dombrandt went over in the 80th minute, it looked like the Quins would complete the dramatic comeback. But two-time Challenge Cup winners Clermont held off the rally and were able to hang on for a 32-27 victory at the Stade Marcel-Michelin and advance to their first Challenge Cup final in a dozen years.

“Trophy" Who Wins?

For whatever it’s worth, this is the first European final for La Rochelle while reaching the final of the Challenge Cup is nothing new for Clermont who has won twice before. However, while this is Clermont’s four appearances in the decider, this is their first since 2007 when they last won the European Challenge Cup.

So far, the teams have one home win apiece this season. La Rochelle edged Clermont 16-12 last October at home in Stade Marcel Deflandre. On the other hand, Clermont equalized with an easy 44-19 win last January at the Stade Marcel-Michelin, where La Rochelle has not won since 1956.

Rugby betting says that Clermont is favored to win over La Rochelle. Clermont is currently ranked 2nd in the Top 14 2019 season with 15 wins, 5 losses and 3 draws and a total of 77 points. La Rochelle is four spots back at #6 with their record of 14-9 and a total of 62 points. Clermont is an offensive juggernaut which leads the Top 14 in points scored this season at 755. La Rochelle is 5th overall with 589 points scored. Clermont has also just allowed 455 points for a point differential of 300 while La Rochelle has given up 554 for a differential of 35 points.

La Rochelle has the 4th top scorer in the league in Ihaia West who has 186 points ( as of April 11, 2019) but Clermont’s Greg Laidlaw is also 8th in the list with 133 points scored. Clermont’s Peter Betham is the third best try scorer with 8 while teammate George Moala has 7 tries for Clermont as well. Given its prolific offense and 2nd ranked defense, I’m picking Clermont to beat La Rochelle in the European Challenge Cup final. As for the spread, I think Clermont wins this by double-digits.

Prediction: Clermont -6.5

Place Your Bet Here

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