the french connection

French referees in place for all three provinces in Champions Cup openers

Connacht have Scottish and Welsh officials for their early European matches, while Joy Neville will take charge of the Challenge Cup opener.

LEINSTER, MUNSTER AND Ulster will all be officiated by French referees in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup as the EPCR announced its appointments for round one and two today.

In the Challenge Cup meanwhile, Mike Adamson will take charge of Connacht’s clash against Bordeaux Begles on Saturday 13 October while Ben Whitehouse is in place for the visit to Sale a week later.

Romain Poite Poite was in the middle for Leinster's semi-final win over Scarlets last season. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

The Champions Cup curtain-raiser at the RDS will see Romaine Poite take charge of Leinster v Wasps on 12 October. The experienced Wayne Barnes will oversee the eastern province’s trip to face their fellow four-time champs Toulouse nine days later.

Munster’s Saturday opener in Exeter Chiefs will be officiated by Jerome Garces, while Alexandre Ruiz is in place for Gloucester’s visit to Thomond Park on 20 October.

Jérome Garcès Garces during Munster's win over Leicester Tigers last year. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ulster’s French connection takes the form of Pascal Gauzere, who will take the whistle for the visit of Leicester Tigers to Belfast. Nigel Owens will be in charge when Dan McFarland takes his squad to Paris to meet Racing 92 in round two.

Irish officials will also play a role of course. Round one of the Champions Cup will feature Andrew Brace in Bath v Toulouse. In round two, John Lacey will be in Edinburgh for the visit of Toulon and George Clancy will officiate Saracens v Lyon.

Referee Joy Neville with assistant referee George Clancy Neville with assistant ref George Clancy last weekend. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

In the Challenge Cup, the honour of the opening match goes to Joy Neville in Stade Aime Giral. Frank Murphy will officiate Bristol v Zebre and Sean Gallagher has a round two trip to Grenoble v Harlequins. 

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