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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Heineken Cup 2006-07



Biarritz OlympiqueBorder ReiversNorthamptonOvermach Parma

BORDER REIVERS

"I have supported the Border Reivers in all their guises (even back in the amateur days) all my life"

Key Player: Kelly Brown, he's got the potential to be one of the great Scottish number 8's. He really needs to deliver though!

Young Star: Nick DeLuca - great feet, good footballing brain, still finding his feet at this level, but surely will be an international in the very near future.

Expectations: Just hope to be competitive in every game, and hopefully beat the Italian side handsomely at Netherdale.

Coach: Steve Bates - used to be understudy to Rob Andrew at Newcastle. However, they had huge fallout. Very astute, and makes the most of scarce resources available.

Match day: Crowds have been very disappointing, but hopefully will pick up for Heineken Cup matches. The Borders people are passionate rugby folk, and a couple of decent results could see them flock to Gala in their droves and create a very intimidating atmosphere!

AOB: The Reivers have had a poor start to the Magners League this season, however the majority of the team are very young and I have a feeling that one morale-boosting victory could see somewhat of a turnaround.

BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE

By a BBC Sport journalist

Key player: There's plenty of stars here with lots of international pedigree, including number eight Imanol Harinordoquy, flanker Serge Betsen, captain and second row Thomas Lievremont, or full-back Nicolas Brusque. But the key men would be either the powerful centre Damien Traille or scrum-half and deadly accurate kicker Dmitri Yachvilli, who is Biarritz's all-time leading Heineken Cup points scorer.

Expectations: The bookies' favourites and will expect to go one further than last year and win the competition. There should be no problems escaping from a group which includes Borders, Northampton and Parma. French champions but have struggled a little bit in the league this term.

Coach: Patrice Lagisquet, dubbed the "Bayonne Express" in his playing days, has plenty of experience at the very top of the game and commands respect from everyone after his time as France's star winger. He's a fan of "le beau jeu" (the beautiful game) and will hone his side's thirst for the try line.

Match day: The 8,000-capacity Parc des Sports Aguilera is an intimidating place to come to, with the ebullient and noisy home supporters waving the red, white and green Basque flag.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS

"I have supported Northampton Saints for eight seasons. Even though I now live in Australia I still follow their progress closely"

Key player: 'King' Carlos Spencer. It's hard to look past the mercurial fly half. An inspirational player full of tricks and ability. He adds considerable flair to the backline and is a vital player in creating attacking moves and something a little extraordinary.

Young star: Jon Clarke. Without doubt, a future England centre. A wonderful player with everything going for him and even though he is currently injured and will be until the new year, he will still have a vital role to play when he returns. Would certainly have made the England team for the Autumn internationals but for injury and will play for England in the future.

Coach: Paul Grayson. A fantastic fly half for both the Saints and England and now an up and coming young coach. He demands the respect of all the players and having been a club legend, it is not difficult to see why.

Expectations: With Biarritz in our pool, many would write us off, but in our last campaign, we had Toulouse in our group and beat them at Franklins Gardens. With Borders and Parma also in the pool, providing we can make do for the most part without Bruce Reihana and John Clarke who are injured, qualification is a real chance, more likely as a best second placed team.

Match day: Probably the best supported team in the country and the match-day atmosphere is very pleasant and warming, yet at the same time, very passionate.

OVERMACH PARMA

By a BBC Sport journalist.

Key player: Former Italian fly-half Francesco Mazzariol. His kicking got the team to the Heineken Cup for the first time and as they may not get many try-scoring chances, if he can keep the scoreboard ticking over then they could ruffle some feathers.

Expectations: Main achievement was qualifying for the Heineken Cup by beating the Dragons all the way back in June. This season will probably just be a steep learning curve and one or two home wins - and running teams close away from home - would comprise a successful campaign.

Coach: Alessandro Ghini, who is starting his fifth season in charge. He won 28 caps for Italy and guided Parma to third place last season as well as the Italian cup. He knows the club inside out, having coached the junior teams.

Match day: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi (3,600). Has a pitch that was described as "the worst I have ever seen" by the then Saracens coach Rod Kafer when Parma beat them in 2004 - maybe the weather can help the Italians out again. Parma is a football town but it is a place where the people will get behind anything that captures the imagination and the team will hope to give them something to cheer about this season.



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