Friday, June 27, 2008
The Stade de France in Paris will on Saturday play host to the climax of the French rugby season the final of the Top 14. Toulouse and Clermont will meet in front of 80 000 passionate fans to compete for the the prestigious Bouclier de Brennus and claim the title of the best team in France.
Toulouse are still bearing the scars of their dramatic loss in the Heineken Cup, and have not won the French title in seven years. They will be as hungry as ever as they look to end the season on a high, with 80 vital minutes of rugby ahead that will determine if the season was a success or failure. Its as simple as that unfortunately.
Clermont themselves have struggled to capture the elusive title, having appeared in the final an incredible eight times, all of which were unsuccessful and were all narrow losses. A ninth time would be devastating for the loyal fans whove turned up to support their side with such vigour all season.
The two esteemed clubs have met three times previously in the final, first in 1994, then 1999, and then the last time Toulouse won the championship, in 2001. This season though, Clermont have had the measure of their rivals on two occasions, winning 21-17 in Clermont and 23-11 in Toulouse.
Some say Clermont should be favourites this time around because they come in fresher, both from having the extra rest day, and more importantly, after Toulouses long and exhausting European campaign.
If this season is anything to go by though, were sure to see a festival of running rugby with both teams filled with tremendous athletes and a high try scoring record.
This video is a nice little preview to the final, featuring some of the best moments from both teams this season. Some of the tries that have been scored are phenomenal, so lets hope we see more of the same in the final tomorrow. Predictions anyone, or too close to call?
Maxime Medard's sublime solo effort vs Bourgoin
Fijian flyer Napoleoni Nalaga's Top 10 Tries
Classic Encounters - All the drama from Toulouse vs Clermont
Aurilien Rougerie classy double vs Toulouse
Vincent Clerc finishes a great Toulouse try
Cedric Heymans magnificent solo try for Toulouse