The build-up to one of Europe’s greatest sporting weekends is almost complete as the clock ticks towards the Cardiff 2014 finals kick-off.
With a galaxy of international stars ready to take the stage at the atmospheric Millennium Stadium for tomorrow’s Heineken Cup decider between RC Toulon and Saracens, and at Cardiff Arms Park for this evening’s all-English Amlin Challenge Cup confrontation featuring Bath Rugby and Northampton Saints, fans from all over Europe are flocking into the Welsh capital to savour a unique celebration of club rugby.
Both matches – which will feature players from as many as 15 nations including luminaries of the global game such as Jonny Wilkinson, George North, Matt Giteau, Schalk Brits and Bryan Habana – will be broadcast in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Bath director of rugby Gary Gold has left the Premiership club. The 46-year-old South African took over at the Rec in May 2012, replacing Sir Ian McGeechan.
Leicester Tigers may have started the new Premiership season with a bonus-point victory but flank Julian Salvi insists the reigning champions are gunning for an even more ruthless performance next time out.
As pointed out by Scrumdown, one of our knowledgeable contributors, yesterday Saracens played their first Premiership game at their new home ground, the Allianz Park, in Barnet Copthall. The match was played on an artificial surface and although it is the second game that has been played there it was the first one that they played in front of ten thousand people which is a capacity crowd for the stadium.
Uncapped, Inverness-born stand-off Tom Heathcote has tonight joined the Scotland squad in Aberdeen in preparation for Saturday’s EMC Test against Tonga. Heathcote, 20, who has already featured in the Heineken Cup for Bath Rugby, has previously played age-grade for England but is “delighted” to accept the call-up from the land of his birth.
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson said: “Tom has worked his way into the Bath first team squad from the academy and we’ve been monitoring his progress for the last couple of years.”
It will be a bottom-of-the-table clash when Sale Sharks take on London Irish to kick off the Premiership action on Friday.
The second round of the 2012/2013 season’s Aviva Premiership was completed this weekend. In the first match of the weekend London Welsh were comprehensively beaten by Harlequins, who scored six tries to none. In the last game, which was played on Sunday, Northampton Saints managed to scrape through against a brave Exeter Chiefs outfit.
The second round of Aviva Premiership games take places this weekend and while it may only be Round Two, Saracens have laid down an early marker in the 2012/13 Premiership season.
The tournament organizers couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season with an action packed game between London Wasps and Harlequins at Twickenham. Harlequins secured a narrow victory after being more than twenty points behind with twenty minutes left to play. Ten tries were scored in total in this match.