Heineken Cup Betting: Wilko's Toulon set sights on top prize

Jonny's aiming for Heineken glory with Toulon

Geoffrey Riddle explains why he believes and England legend could achieve Heineken Cup glory with his French team this season. Our man also selects pool and opening weekend bets...


Recommended Bets (1-5pt staking plan)
4pts Harlequins to win Pool 3
2pts Toulon to win the Heineken Cup
1pt Castres to win Heineken Cup

1pt Exeter on the handicap v Leinster

The 18th Heineken Cup starts on Friday but due to wrangling between the various stakeholders that make up the greatest club rugby competition in the world it could be the last as we know it.

The presence of teams such as Zebre and Connacht in the Heineken Cup certainly lessen the appeal in the pool stages and organisers of the Super 15 tournament can justifiably question the Heineken Cup's status. This week, 17 representatives argued for over six hours to reach a stalemate in negotiations and they will meet again on October 30 to have another round of talks.

By then the first two rounds will be completed and Harlequins could be well on their way to bossing Pool 3. I find it astounding that one high street layer is still offering 10-11 about last season's Premiership champions to account for three lesser sides.

In terms of ratings there may not be too much between Biarritz and Harlequins, but Quins are still the better team and there is no way this Pool is an each-of-two group. At the time of writingn on Betfair Harlequins are as short as 1.758/11 to take the pool, but with better prices on offer elsewhere you may get matched if you ask for a similar price.

Biarritz are a shadow of the team that lost to Toulouse in the knockout stages in 2009-10 and then the following season. They were terrible last season before they dropped down into the Challenge Cup only to go and win it. Although they started the Top 14 brightly they suffered a horrible defeat to Toulon in the latest round of the French league. Admittedly, Biarritz were nowhere near full strength, but they won't be for their fixture at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

Biarritz have started matches very brightly this season, scoring almost a quarter of their points in the first ten minutes of their eight fixtures. They could well start strongly again, and it could be worth looking into the first scoring play and first to score ten points markets in their match this weekend.

As to which team is going to win the tournament, I have nailed my colours to Toulon. Jonny Wilkinson mentioned in glowing terms during a recent press trip to promote the 2015 World Cup that his side were revved up to the task and with a host of international talent at their disposal they have the squad to go all the way.

Apart from local rivals Montpellier, who they host on Sunday, they have an easy Pool. Sale and Cardiff look way short of the required standard and, according to my ratings, the seasiders are the second best team in Europe behind Leinster.

The Irish side proved last season that they were superior to Clermont, beating them in the Stade Marcel Michelin. They are bundled in to the same Pool once more but even so Leinster look short in the betting with such a fearsome rival to contend with so early in the tournament. In fact, with Toulouse having to grapple with Leicester in Pool Two the front two in the betting look short at this stage of the tournament.

With that in mind, you will all know by now that I like to sniff out a back-to-lay vehicle and this year Castres look the most attractive option. They should be available to back at around 100.0099/1 on Betfair and do not look too far off the pace in Pool 4 with Northampton, Glasgow and Northampton.

The Heineken Cup has seen some really big-priced teams make the knockout stages in recent times and the French side, who lie sixth in the Top 14, look over-priced to join that list.

Recommended Bets (1-5pt staking plan)
4pts Harlequins to win Pool 3
2pts Toulon to win the Heineken Cup
1pt Castres to win Heineken Cup

1pt Exeter on the handicap v Leinster

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