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Harlequins were truly blessed by the draw for this season's Heineken Cup pool stage – Connacht, the weakest of the Irish teams, and the Italian side Zebre, the weakest team in Christendom, were opponents of which dreams are made. However, they will find themselves thoroughly tested when they chase a clean sweep of victories, together with guaranteed top seeding for the quarter-finals, in the Basque country tonight.
O'Shea delighted to progress but knows value of playing next stage at The Stoop
Harlequins 47 Connacht 8
If some of the leading referees in the British Isles are currently feeling a strange burning sensation somewhere in the region of the tympanic membrane – the eardrum, in layman's terms – they had better prepare themselves for a conflagration.
Our first family holiday was anything but a holiday, I realised, at 4am in a turquoise-walled suite in the South of France, where the peace was broken at regular intervals by a wailing baby. Correction: my wailing baby. While we were trying to introduce her to a new routine, it seemed that she was breaking us into a completely new way of being, a holiday where we couldn't relax, even when she was sleeping.
While the world at large has been moaning about the weather which, admittedly, has been remarkably inclement, not to mention the remarkable lack of security at the Olympics, something remarkably strange has been happening to my wardrobe. "You're wearing red, white and blue," says my friend and I realise that there's no arguing with her.
If Brit wins today's sprint stage, he equals André Darrigade's record of 22 stage victories. Alasdair Fotheringham tracks down 83-year-old who is happy to hand over his crown
English champions Harlequins have been given a kind draw for the group stages of next season's Heineken Cup.
Sarries face a talented Clermont today but Farrell knows how to foster team spirit
Prop Gethin Jenkins will join the Welsh player exodus to France next season.
France 30 Italy 12
Biarritz 36 Ospreys 5
Where are you now and what can you see?
Benetton Treviso made Pool Five of the Heineken Cup, the competition's obligatory pool of death, a little deadlier still – if that is possible – by beating Biarritz 30-26 in the Veneto yesterday.
Imanol Harinordoquy, the exceptional No 8 who did more than anyone to drive France towards October's World Cup final in Auckland, may be the proudest Basque ever to play international rugby – a pride that has been known to manifest itself in a fierce dislike of the opposition, even if they happen to be Basques themselves. Anyone wondering where he gets it from has no need to wonder further. Blame the parents – or at least, M Harinordoquy Snr.
Tuesday’s Basque derby was always going to be a spiky affair – Biarritz, bottom of the table and without a home win in the league this season, against the star-studded ensemble put together on the chequebook of France’s Mr Specsavers, Alain Afflelou.