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Sherratt calls on his side to embrace European challenge

First Team News | 6th December 2023

Head coach Matt Sherratt has called on his young squad to embrace playing in this year’s Investec Champions Cup ahead of their opening match of the competition against Toulouse on Saturday.

The Blues and Blacks are up against the five times European Champions this weekend, before welcoming Bath Rugby to Cardiff the following week. They then face Racing 92 in Paris and finish the group stages against Harlequins at Cardiff Arms Park in the New Year.

In recent years, Cardiff have played in the Challenge Cup, but with the Blue and Blacks now in Europe’s elite competition, he sees it as a great opportunity for his side to pit themselves against some of the best teams in Europe. 

“I'm looking forward to it, obviously we've been in the Challenge Cup a few times, and it's good competition as it progresses, but with the Champions Cup, you're playing the best teams,” said Sherratt.

“We’re playing the best teams in the best stadiums. I think it's a sellout apparently as well in Toulouse. The best players in the best club competition, so I think we're all really looking forward to it.

“If you start looking too much at Toulouse and naming their players you can just get caught up in it all. We've just got to go there, play our best game.

“I do genuinely think as well that the way that we play, they won't have seen too much like that in the French top 14. There's a lot of big single ball carriers out there and the game is a little bit stop start and messy.

“If we can get some continuity and some speed of ball, which is difficult against big men, and we put our shape against them, I do genuinely believe we can cause them some problems.

“Last year we had Newcastle who were bottom of the Premiership and were saving themselves for the Prem a little bit and they came here probably with a second team. It does give you a bit of momentum as a coach because you know then that you can pick up a couple of wins, get a bit of momentum, some confidence back if you need it.

“But, I'd much rather be going over to Toulouse. In football terms, it's a Real Madrid or a Barcelona, so what an experience for our young lads to go to a stadium like that, play against Dupont and Ramos.

“I think we go away from home with no fear. We're going to Racing and Toulouse, two of the best stadiums with the best support I've been to.

“I went lucky enough to go to Racing with Ospreys and it's a night club with a rugby pitch in the middle of it. It's a brilliant place to go. So I think we’ll be going over there, having no fear, firing some shots, enjoying the experience, but we're also going to go there to be competitive, get the young players to have a different experience.

“Then our home games, Bath and Harlequins, they're the type of games that Cardiff teams have traditionally got right up for, so I'm looking forward to those two games.”