European Rugby Challenge Cup final + European Rugby Champions Cup final
From Friday, BT Sport + Sky Sports
Rugby finals are a lot like buses. You wait ages for one and then two turn up at once. This weekend you can watch a pair of epic encounters across two days, with Gloucester and Stade Français battling it out for the European Rugby Challenge Cup and Saracens squaring off with Clermont Auvergne in the European Rugby Champions Cup – and both games are live on BT Sport and Sky Sports on Virgin TV!
Two finals in two days? Yep, that’s right, and both showdowns are all set to deliver hard-hitting action as the continent’s top players scrum, ruck and kick their way to glory. But what should you be keeping a keen eye on when the drama gets underway on Friday? Allow us to fill you in on the six things you need to know…
1. Edinburgh is the place to be
If you’re going to do a huge weekend of rugby that the whole world will be watching, you need an amazing stadium to host the whole shebang. BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh is the perfect setting for these showpiece events. The 67,800-seater is one of European rugby’s great arenas and it’s sure to be a cauldron of electricity on both Friday and Saturday. Bring it on!
2. It could be a glorious weekend for England. Or France
There’s no escaping the fact that both finals are battles between the English and the French, but which of these proud, rugby-mad nations will be left heroically beating their chests come the end of the weekend? Whether it’s grown men who have had a few dressed as Saint George, or their Gallic cousins holding aloft actual cockerels in celebration, both clashes are guaranteed to be full-blooded both on and off the pitch.
3. Saracens can become legends
If they overcome Clermont on Saturday, Sarries will be only the fourth team to win back-to-back Champions Cup titles. The champions are the favourites heading into the match (they gave a rugby masterclass during their semi-final triumph over Munster) but their opponents are loaded with talent of their own, including former Bath full-back Nick Abendanon and ex-Saracens winger David Strettle. If the champs want immortality, they’re gonna have to work hard for it.
4. Clermont are down… but not out
You want your key players fit for your biggest game of the season, so spare a thought for Clermont, who have three of their top stars battling for fitness ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup final. Wily scrum-half Morgan Parra is their biggest concern (the beloved France international gives his team a certain je ne sais quoi), while influential duo Rémi Lamerat and Aurélien Rougerie are also in a race against time to get themselves into contention.
5. It’s bittersweet for Gloucester
A victory over Stade Français on Friday will mean that Gloucester get their hands on the Challenge Cup for a third time but, whatever the result, the big occasions is going to be tinged with sadness. Why? Because it’s the last time that dynamic scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will be playing for them. The Scot – who has spent the past three years with Gloucester – is crossing the Channel to join Clermont at the end of the season.
6. Troisième time lucky for Stade Français?
If you lose two finals of the same competition, you know you’ve done something to annoy the rugby gods. Stade Français can finally achieve Challenge Cup glory at the third time of asking on Friday. If they lose, they may as well just pack it all in. Sport has a funny way of righting wrongs, however, so Gloucester had better watch out.
This weekend’s live rugby on Virgin TV
Gloucester Rugby v Stade Français, Friday, 7.30pm, BT Sport 2/HD (CH 532/528) + Sky Sports 2/HD (CH 512/502)
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens, Saturday, 4pm, BT Sport 2/HD (CH 532/528) + Sky Sports 3/HD (CH 513/503)