Toulon beat Racing Metro 16-6 last weekend to book themselves a spot in the Top 14 final against Castres. Tomorrow however they face Saracens in the Heineken Cup final, with bruiser Mathieu Bastareaud sure to have a big impact in the midfield.
He made this big tackle on flanker Jaques Cronje at the weekend, but was yellow carded for it. You’d think he was a little hard done possibly because it was a solid hit, but the laws are the laws.
Tomorrow he’ll form a lethal midfield partnership with former Wallabies star Matt Giteau, who crossed for a very well taken try against Racing Metro. Working alongside Jonny Wilkinson, with good ball from the forwards, they’ll no doubt have a telling influence on the game.
Former Toulon forwards coach Olivier Azam has compared ‘Bastarocket’ to Ma’a Nonu, saying that there aren’t many centers in world rugby with such size and penetration. At 25-years-old and still improving, he’s sure to rack up the Test caps over the next few years.
Without getting too into it, all around the park there are great matchups but the loose trios of both sides in particular making for an exciting prospect. It’s Springbok, Argentina and England up against Scotland, Namibia and England (full team sheets below).
As mentioned on our Facebook page, another interesting aspect to the game is that if Toulon do manage to defend their title, winger Bryan Habana will become just the 5th player ever to win the Heineken Cup, Super Rugby and the Rugby World Cup.
The others are Brad Thorn, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha and Rod Kafer.
15. Delon Armitage; 14. Drew Mitchell, 13. Mathieu Bastareaud, 12. Matt Giteau, 11. Bryan Habana; 10. Jonny Wilkinson (c), 9. Sebastien Tillous-Borde; 1. Xavier Chiocci, 2. Craig Burden, 3. Carl Hayman, 4. Bakkies Botha, 5. Danie Rossouw, 6. Juan Smith, 7. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 8. Steffon Armitage. Replacements: 16. Jean-Charles Orioli, 17. Alexandre Menini, 18. Martin Castrogiovanni, 19. Ali Williams, 20. Virgile Bruni, 21. Maxime Mermoz, 22. Michael Claassens, 23. Jocelino Suta.
15. Alex Goode; 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Marcelo Bosch, 12. Brad Barritt, 11. David Strettle; 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Richard Wigglesworth; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Schalk Brits, 3. Matt Stevens, 4. Steve Borthwick (c), 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 6. Kelly Brown, 7. Jacques Burger, 8. Billy Vunipola. Replacements: 16. Jamie George, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. James Johnston, 19. Mouritz Botha, 20. Jackson Wray, 21. Neil de Kock, 22. Charlie Hodgson, 23. Chris Wyles.