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'You could win convincingly and then they kick the crap out of you' | Quinlan on the challenge of back-to-back games

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

11:25 6 Dec 2019

While some are still reflecting on where it all went wrong during the Rugby World Cup in Japan, issues on the field are surging on. 

In the Champions Cup, it's already time for the tournament's back-to-back pool games, a sequence of fixtures that Alan Quinlan has warned can make or break a season.

This weekend both Leinster and Connacht will play their first fixtures away to Northampton and Gloucester respectively. Meanwhile, Ulster and Munster will be hosts for Harlequins and Saracens on Saturday before making the opposite trip next weekend.

Alan Quinlan joined Friday's OTB AM to preview the provinces' back-to-back games and warned against players putting too much stock in the result of the first game.

"There's always intrigue with the back-to-back games. The psychology of playing the same team twice in-a-row in a cup-style scenario.

"I played in so many of them over the years, and you beat a team one week and you could win convincingly against a French team in Thomond Park and then you go the following week and they kick the crap out of you. And it's so much more difficult."

"The results can change so much and dramatically. Leinster went, in 2013, to Northampton in the first game and they beat Northampton 40-7 which suggests then that they are going to win at home convincingly the next week.

"Northampton beat them 18-9. So sometimes the results and the form – it's like the FA Cup – it just goes out the window sometimes."

While Quinlan agreed that the back-to-back fixtures provide for one of the best weeks in club rugby, he advised that clubs don't have to make it their aim to win both games.

"As I said it's a defining couple of weeks really for teams. If you have a really tough game away from home a losing bonus-point is not a bad result and then you win with a bonus-point at home and you get five or six points from two games," he said.

You can watch Quinlan's full preview of the back-to-back games with Mike McCarthy here.

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Alan Quinlan Champions Cup Mick McCarthy

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