- The Battle of Hastings: 1066 – William the Conqueror Vs King Harold
- The Battle of Agincourt: 1415 – Charles d’Albret Vs Henry V
- The Battle of Trafalgar: 1805 – Napoleon Bonaparte V Admiral Nelson
- The Battle of Waterloo: 1815 – Napoleon Bonaparte V Duke of Wellington
You may be thinking, what on earth am I reading, and yes I do concede that the opening does look like a military timeline; that’s because it is. The four battles above, are four occasions when Britain and France have gone to war at a grand scale, and by the look of both Clermont and Saracens, we could see another monumental event, which may just go down in history!
But enough about the past, let’s look ahead to this week’s final at BT Murrayfield. Both teams crushed Irish hopes, in the form of Leinster and Munster, in the semi-finals and are both chasing season doubles.
Date: 13th May
Venue: BT Murrayfield
Last 6 Results:
A true European giant, whose class has been undoubted for the past decade, at least; yet, too often have they been the bridesmaid, especially on the European stage – 8 semi-finals and two finals in recent years but nothing to show for them (note: no club has played in 3 finals and not won one).
These guys will be hungry, of that there is no doubt and this season they’ve been avenging past European hurts, beating both Toulon and Leinster en route to the final.
Although a class outfit, they’re missing a few big names through injury, including powerful winger Noa Nakaitaci and the ever-so influential, Wesley Fofana. However, the famous Yellow Army will no doubt make the final feel like a home fixture, and they'll be able to feed of this!
Saracens are a mechanical unit who are extremely difficult to break down, so Clermont may often look to the boot of Camille Lopez, to secure territory and keep the score board ticking over. It should be an interesting tactical battle.
On a personal level, a winning try for former Sarrie favourite, David Strettle would be arather special!
Viewed by many as the number one side in European rugby, this team have been there and done it; just last year in fact and they’ve showed no real signs of vulnerability in Europe this season.
With a world class line up that includes 6 Lions, including the likes of Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje, they’ll be many people’s favourites to retain the title, especially after sweeping aside Munster. With their intense physicality up front, the metronomic boot and exquisite game management of Farrell and an unyielding defence (Known as the Wolfpack), Sarries are heavily fancied to become only the 4th side to retain the European Cup - and who would bet against them after going 17 unbeaten in the competition, one more and they break Leinsters all time record.
What makes Saracens a cut above the rest is their ability, like the All Blacks, to play for a full 80 minutes; they take zero prisoners. Yet, last week’s Aviva Premiership defeat to Wasps will have hurt so it’s now up to them to show resilience and come out fighting…which I have no doubt they will.
On a personal level, Chris Ashton will be even more determined to score than usual, as in doing so, he’ll become the Champions Cup’s all-time top try scorer – he currently sits on 36, level with Vincent Clerc.
It should be an incredible and interesting spectacle, which may turn into a rather chess like, and low scoring affair...Of course, we'd all love free flowing rugby with teams running it from their own try line but in a European final, I doubt we'll witness that.
It's hard to see past Saracens but you just never know in cup final rugby!