Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young has cheered Premiership champions Harlequins ahead of their Champions Cup clash at Arms Park on Friday.
Quins will arrive in Wales knowing that a third consecutive win in the group stage would secure a place in the round of 16 later this campaign.
They have never made it past the quarter-finals of the European rugby club competition, but the current form following last season’s Premiership title win suggests they are serious contenders.
Difficult team to stop
“I know from personal experience how good Quins are,” Young said ahead of Friday’s game.
“It’s a very difficult team to stop. They have too many quality players to single out one or two.
“They have always shown that they can beat the best at any time. I think where the frustration would have been on their part, that consistency of performance week in, week out.
“I don’t think anyone doubted that they had the quality in their team to push the best teams, and they showed regularly that they were as good as anyone and that they could beat anyone on the day.
“It was just the consistency they had to show to win the league and that’s exactly what they did.
“They keep playing, wear you out and get the result. They’ve done it the Quins way, playing on the front foot and trying to score, and I think it’s been great for rugby. They are a joy to watch.”
Key to Quins’ success has been the sustained form of their England international fly-half Marcus Smith, and Young added: “He is a real quality player.
“He sees things that people don’t, and he’s so keen to react to opportunities.
“But they have talent everywhere. That eight-nine-10-12 axle is huge for them, and they have so much gas on the flanks.”
The Welsh government’s coronavirus restrictions – top sport in the country has been behind closed doors since Boxing Day – mean no audience for Quins’ visit.
Young said: “There would have been a fantastic atmosphere. You can’t hide that it’s not great to play in empty stadiums.
“It’s better than not playing at all, but only marginally, I think, to be honest. We haven’t had too many games when we’ve been busy so they can’t come soon enough.
“We understand it’s about making sure people stay healthy and safe. We get that. But when it comes to playing a game, there is no substitute for playing in front of supporters.”
British clubs get green light to play in France
The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup group matches involving British clubs in France this coming weekend look set to go ahead as planned.
French tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has announced that travel restrictions will be lifted from Friday morning.
Travelers from the UK who have been fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter France if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test within 24 hours of departure, while the requirement to self-isolate on arrival is removed.