What awaits Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors sides in Europe?

Jack Dempsey and Emiliano Boffelli

Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh park league commitments this weekend to take their first European steps of the season.

Warriors are in Champions Cup action after a hot-and-cold start to their United Rugby Championship campaign.

After a poor 2020-21, Edinburgh have been consigned to the Challenge Cup, where one of England's heavyweights lies in wait.

These are the challenges facing Scotland's two pro-teams...

How does it work?

Organisers altered the traditional pool formats during the coronavirus pandemic and have stuck with the new set-up of two 12-team pools in each competition.

The pools are decided according to tiers - based on clubs' league positions in the previous campaign - and sides in the same domestic leagues do not play each other.

The top eight in each pool progress to two-legged last-16 ties.

Glasgow take on the runners-up

Last season's beaten finalists, La Rochelle, coached by European champion and former Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara, welcome Glasgow on Sunday.

The French side succumbed to Toulouse at Murrayfield - and also in the final of their domestic Top 14.

In fact, they must be thoroughly sick of playing Toulouse - the champions are the only side to have beaten them at home this term.

Inflicting rare home misery upon La Rochelle is a mighty task for Danny Wilson's men.

Their hosts have gigantic Wallabies lock Will Skelton, brilliant Fiji centre Levani Botia and Springbok Raymond Rhule in their ranks. O'Gara can also call upon domestic heroes Jonathan Danty, instrumental in France's recent trouncing of New Zealand, and Brice Dulin, who starred in the Six Nations.

Victory for the Warriors would go down as a huge upset.

Edinburgh face resurgent Saracens

After their egregious Premiership salary cap breaches, Saracens were relegated in 2020 and, as a newly promoted side, the English juggernaut play in the second-tier Challenge Cup.

Saracens have made a roaring return to the domestic top flight - a haul of six wins from nine matches, and the best points difference in the league, has them tucked behind Leicester Tigers in second place.

The club won the Champions Cup in 2016, 2017 and 2019, but it remains to be seen how many resources - or more pointedly, how many England superstars - Mark McCall will place in its less illustrious sister competition.

Even a weakened Saracens side would be a formidable prospect for Edinburgh and could feature Scotland internationals Tim Swinson, Duncan Taylor and Sean Maitland, as well as former Edinburgh lock Callum Hunter-Hill.

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