The crème de la crème of northern hemisphere rugby go head-to-head in the battle for the sport’s biggest honours in the 2012/13 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup competitions.
Club sides from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy will all be vying to rip the trophy from Leinster, who last season became only the second side to both successfully retain the title and lift a third European honour.
The penultimate round of the pool stages takes place this weekend, and Sky Sports will screen 11 live Heineken Cup games as well as one match from the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Sky’s round five coverage kicks off with a full preview of the weekend’s encounters on Thursday night, ahead of a live Challenge Cup pool 3 clash between Bayonne and Newport-Gwent Dragons (also on S4C).
Then on Friday night, Ulster’s must-win clash with Glasgow at Ravenhill will be the first of 11 live Heineken Cup games.
The Irish province saw their unbeaten start to the season ended by Northampton last weekend and need to bounce back against the winless Warriors to stay in control of Pool 4.
All the action gets underway from 7.30pm ahead of an 8.00pm kick-off on Friday, January 11, with Northampton’s home date with Castres available via the red button.
The Saints looked dead and buried after the 26-5 hiding by Ulster at Franklin’s Gardens in round three, but their one-point victory in the return fixture means victory over the French side will keep them in the hunt.
Saturday’s bumper line-up of live European rugby begins with Harlequins hosting Connacht at the Stoop (kick-off 1.35pm), where victory will confirm top spot in Pool 3, while fellow unbeaten side Toulon face Cardiff at the same time on the red button.
Saracens travel to Racing Metro (kick-off 3.45pm) knowing victory puts them within touching distance of a home quarter-final, which is followed by Leinster’s must-win meeting with Scarlets (kick-off 6pm).
The back-to-back champions are on the brink of losing their crown after successive defeats, and will be hoping Exeter do them a favour by breaking Clermont’s 51-game unbeaten record at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
Sunday sees Munster travel to Edinburgh (kick-off 12.45pm) in dire need of a victory, and the weekend culminates with Ospreys hosting Leicester (kick-off 3pm), with Toulouse v Treviso on the Red Button.
Sky Sports will be the only place to follow all the action from the 2012/13 Heineken Cup, with a plethora of live games from the opening round through to the final at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on Saturday, May 18.
Alex Payne and James Gemmell will present Sky Sports’ live coverage of both competitions, with expert analysis and comment from Will Greenwood, Dewi Morris, Dean Ryan, Paul Wallace, Scott Quinnell and many more.
Commentary on all the big games will be led by Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes. Other members of the commentary team include Johnnie Hammond, Mark Robson, Martin Gillingham, Simon Ward, Ieuan Evans, Scott Hastings and Andrew Cotter.
Welsh language channel S4C will have free-to-air highlights of the competition throughout the season, with selected live games from Amlin Challenge Cup featuring Welsh teams.
Unlike during the previous two seasons, ITV4 will not be showing Heineken Cup highlights on Monday evenings. They are no longer a broadcast partners due to “pure commercial realities”, according to ERC’s chief executive Derek McGrath.
On radio, BBC 5 live, 5 live Sports Extra and the BBC Sport website will have live commentary of selected matches.
Details of how to follow Round 5 of the 2012/13 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup below:
Indicates Heineken Cup / Amlin Challenge Cup matches Thursday 10th January Bayonne v Newport-Gwent Dragons – Pool 3 Kick-off: 19:45 | LIVE: 7.00pm-10.00pm – Sky Sports 2 Coverage also on S4C from 7.35pm Friday 11th January Ulster v Glasgow Warriors – Pool 4 Kick-off: 20:00 | LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm – Sky Sports 2 Northampton v Castres – Pool 4 Kick-off: 20:00 | LIVE: Sky Sports 2 (Red Button) Saturday 12th January Harlequins v Connacht – Pool 3 Kick-off: 13:35 | LIVE: 1.00pm-3.30pm – Sky Sports 1 Zebre v Biarritz – Pool 3 Kick-off: 13:35 | LIVE: Sky Sports 1 (Red Button) Toulon v Cardiff Blues – Pool 6 Kick-off: 13:35 | LIVE: Sky Sports 1 (Red Button) Racing Metro 92 v Saracens – Pool 1 Kick-off: 15:40 | LIVE: 3.30pm-5.45pm – Sky Sports 1 Leinster v Scarlets – Pool 5 Kick-off: 18:00 | LIVE: 5.45pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 1 Clermont Auvergne v Exeter – Pool 5 Kick-off: 18:00 | LIVE: Sky Sports 1 (Red Button) Match Highlights: Cwpan Heineken (Welsh language, English subtitles) Feat. Leinster v Scarlets & Toulon v Cardiff Blues 10.00pm-11.00pm – S4C Sunday 13th January Edinburgh v Munster – Pool 1 Kick-off: 12:45 | LIVE: 12.30pm-2.45pm – Sky Sports 2 Ospreys v Leicester – Pool 2 Kick-off: 15:00 | LIVE: 2.45pm-5.30pm – Sky Sports 2 Toulouse v Treviso – Pool 2 Kick-off: 15:00 | LIVE: Sky Sports 2 (Red Button) Match Highlights: Cwpan Heineken (Welsh language, English subtitles) Feat. Ospreys v Leicester Tigers 7.30pm-8.30pm – S4C European Rugby Special 9.00pm-10.00pm – Sky Sports 4 . . .
Sky Sports subscribers can follow every Heineken Cup match via the Sky Sports Events Centre – CLICK HERE
Keep up to date with all the latest Heineken Cup reports, score flashes and results by logging onto the Sky Sports rugby union website, or by following Sky Sports’ dedicated rugby union Twitter feed (@SkySportsRugby).
Online streaming available to UK users only