Friday, May 1, 2015

French money v more French money!

 Isa Nacewa tackle on Gareth Owen
 Isa! Isa! ( picture

Saturday is the climax of the Champions Cup, Heineken Cup ver 2.0, and it French money v more French money. Actually, I am being a bit harsh there, because while the foundation of Toulon  is loads and loads of Euros, bringing together the biggest names in rugby, Clermont is a club that brings the razzmatazz, the love of rugby. They spend a lot too, but you can’t buy heart. I can remember them playing Munster at Thomond with 14 men after Jamie Cudmores’ red card, and they would just not give up, their intensity got higher and higher. Their demolition of Northampton is probably the match of the tournament so far, tough for Saints fan, but an absolute feast for everybody else. There wasn’t much in Toulon’s defeat of Leinster, and we are not the force we were, I thought our pack was better, and only an intercept try really separated the teams. Their key weapon is the boot of Leigh Halfpenny.

Clermont meanwhile really have it all – I think they have the edge in both the backs and the forwards, and players like Fofana that you can’t put a price on.  They don’t have a goal kicker of the same calibre of Halfpenney though, and that is Toulon’s glimmer of hope, snatching a win in a tight match. Clermont though, are nearly irresistible when they turn it on, and I think they’ll be able to keep playing in the right part of the field, and use that dazzling backline to really put the boot in. Clermont for me!

I believe selling tickets for an all French  affair at Twickenham hasn’t gone too well – you can buy a ticket for the English Premiership final and get a free ticket to the Champions Cup match at the same time.

In the Challenge cup, Gloucester take on Edinburgh. Neither side has had very even form this year, but Edinburgh have been truly terrible in patches, and I can’t see tehm finding a  good 80 minutes to win this , so Gloucester.

In Leinsterland, it’s the second coming of His Awesomeness, the return of Isa! Fantastic news, he’s one of the best players Leinster have ever had, he can take up the fly half role as needed, and if ever you saw a player with a coaching career stamped all over him, it’s Isa!

Champions Cup
Saturday, May 02
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne    16:00
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Fri - 01st May 15     18:45
Edinburgh - Gloucester

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