Heineken Cup Final
Friday, 23 May 2008
Munster play Toulouse in the Heineken Cup final in Cardiff on Saturday 24th May. It's the biggest game in Irish Sport this year. Thousands of Munster fans are expected to travel to Wales.
Why is it Relevant Today?
The Heineken Cup Final will take place tomorrow on Saturday 24th May in the Millennium stadium in Cardiff. Munster are playing Toulouse who are the most famous and biggest club in France.
It is expected that hundreds of thousands of Munster men and women will make the trip across the Irish sea to Cardiff.
Who is the guest?
Brent Pope, Half of the Hook & Pope team and renowned RTE Rugby Pundit. Originally from New Zealand, he has now adopted Ireland and we're glad he has. He was especially disappointed at the RWC 2007, not only were his beloved All Blacks knocked out at an early stage, so was his adopted country Ireland! He is known for his trade mark shirts and jacket and it has been known for people to adopt the 'Brent Pope' look around the streets of Dublin!
Heineken Cup History Munster-v-Toulouse
The Heineken Cup is the most prestige's Club rugby competition in the world. Munster have competed in every single European Cup since it started in 1995 and have been in three finals losing two in 2000 and 2002 however they won the competition in 2006 beating Biarritz in the Millennium Stadium.
This could be a good omen for Munster as they are playing French opposition in the same stadium that they won the competition in 2006.
The teams currently ranked No 1 and No 2 under the merit-based ERC European Ranking system - just one point separates Munster (29 points) and Toulouse (28 points) - are also the teams who have played the most Heineken Cup matches.
It could hardly be tighter, with just one match in it with Toulouse having played 93 tournament matches to Munster's 92 and both teams have now qualified for the knock-out stages a record 10 times in the 13 seasons of the Heineken Cup, Munster notching up their perfect 10 in successive campaigns.
This will be Munster's fourth appearance in the final of the Heineken Cup. They won the tournament in 2006 in Cardiff but lost out twice in 2000 and 2002. They have qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament for the last 10 years a record no one else in European rugby can boost.
They are a strong powerful team who this year have added a little more class in the backs by bringing in a trio of New Zealanders including the All Blacks all time highest try scorer Doug Howlett.
Although they have brought in some foreign influence the heart and soul of the team remains green. With Paul O'Connell commanding his forwards and Ronan O'Gara marshaling his back line. O'Gara has been the galvanizing force this season in Munster and there are worries about his fitness a head of the game. However he took a full part in training on Wednesday and Thursday.
If O'Gara doesn't play Munster's chances of a victory will be greatly reduced he is what makes Munster tick.
Toulouse have been in the final 4 times and have won the tournament a record 3 times winning the inaugural tournament in 1996 and only losing once in 2004.
They are widely regarded as the most exciting team in Europe and have some of the most devastating running backs in world rugby including Cedric Heymen(French International Full-Back) Vincent Clerc (French International Wing) Yannick Jauzion (French International centre).