Comic magnate Mourad Boudjellal’s Toulon retained the Heineken Cup trophy with a comprehensive victory, by seventeen points, over English club Saracens at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff yesterday. The final score was Saracens 6/23 Toulon.
This victory proved that in the modern era of sports it is most often the team who has the biggest pot of gold available to it who will win the trophy as on the same day Toulon’s football equivalent Real Madrid lifted the Champions League trophy just hours later in Lisbon. The final score of 4/1 to Real Madrid may make their victory seem as comprehensive as Toulon’s.
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.
Reigning champions Toulon will have a shot at becoming only the third team in Heineken Cup history to defend their title after they overcame Munster 24-16 in the second semi-final at Stade Velodrome, Marseille.
The only try of the game may have come in the second half from Munster wing Simon Zebo, but Toulon were never behind in a game which saw Jonny Wilkinson end with 21 points and Delon Armitage smash over a 55 metre penalty.
Adam Jones has spoken about reaching some personal landmarks, the motivation of having two young Wales tight-heads after the number three jersey, and looking forward to another tour to South Africa.
London’s Olympic Stadium will host five games at the 2015 Rugby World Cup which is being held across 13 venues.
Ireland held off a stirring second-half Wales comeback to launch their Six Nations campaign with a thrilling win and condemn the champions to an eighth successive Test defeat.
Wales interim head coach Rob Howley has named Dragons second rower Andrew Coombs to make his debut in the Wales starting team to face Ireland on Saturday.
Coombs will partner Ospreys’ Ian Evans in the second row who returns from injury to start the fixture.
Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll was among several senior players restored by Declan Kidney to the starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales in Cardiff.
The RBS Six Nations Championship is due to kick off this weekend. The first game of this year’s tournament sees current holder Wales playing at home against Ireland this Saturday afternoon.
Wales interim coach Robert Howley has dropped Mike Phillips and brought in Scarlet Tavis Knoyle at scrum-half to face Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday.
The Olympic Stadium will stage matches during the 2015 Rugby World Cup if the fog over the venue’s post-Games future clears by the end of the season.