It may be considered the slightly less attractive younger sibling to the Champions Cup but the teams competing in tonight’s Challenge Cup Final know just how important a European Cup Final win is, and are taking it very seriously.
Gloucester has won every game in the competition, the only team to do so, including a very impressive victory over Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm in the semi-finals.
Edinburgh also come into the game full of confidence having spanked Zebre 37-0 in their last outing. Just like the sister Final at Twickenham tomorrow, this match at the Stoop is too close to call and in the build up both teams are doing everything in their power to get into their opponent’s heads.
Rugby is so often like a game of chess. Beneath the blood, sweat and tears there are subtle tactics at play, so many ways to get your noses ahead and this Final is a prime example of two teams who will do and say anything just to win, with mind games firing back and forth all week.
Edinburgh started it, with former Gloucester prop Alasdair Dickinson coming out and stating how confident his side is of victory in the most exciting game he has ever played in.
Not only this but the Scottish club have seen this week as an appropriate opportunity to announce three signings for the season, to ensure morale his high within the team and the supporters going into this fixture. Check.
Gloucester’s move. Following the Dickinson interview they release an interview of their own, with their scrum-half, former Edinburgh captain and current Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw stating he made the right decision to leave his hometown club.
Next, Gloucester decided, two matches prior to the end of the domestic competition, to upload this video for their fans to vote for try of the season. A move potentially completely innocent, but more likely a ‘look at what we are capable of’ warning shot to their opponents.
The game has already started, theyve been playing all week and it is balanced on a knife-edge. The real things starts tonight and the team that gets to call ‘Check Mate’ has to be decided on the pitch. Kick off is at 20:45 local time, at the Twickenham Stoop.