8 reasons why you should watch the Heineken Cup final 5 years ago

8 reasons why you should watch the Heineken Cup final

Okay, no Irish involvement is a bit of a downer but the Cardiff clash between Saracens and Toulon is still well worth catching and here's why.

We were dearly hoping that Munster would make it into the Heineken Cup final but the men in red went down to Toulon, meaning we have no Irish involvement in the final for the second year in a row.

But just because none of our teams are in it doesn't mean the game isn't worth watching. Here are eight reasons why you should be tuning in on Saturday afternoon.

1. It's the last one

We're sure that the European Rugby Champions Cup will be fine once it is up and running but the Heineken Cup has wormed its way into our hearts over the last 18 years. From Ulster's win in 1999 all the way through the many great victories achieved by Connacht and especially Munster and Leinster over the years, it rapidly became a big part of our sporting landscape.

The provinces will all still be in action next year, and the competition will arguably be even fiercer than ever, but the final ever Heineken Cup game deserves 80 minutes of your attention.

2. You don't get many bad Heineken Cup finals

There is usually little or nothing between the teams by the time they reach this stage. Okay, Leinster blew out Ulster in 2012 but that was a stunning display of excellence by Joe Schmidt's side and massively enjoyable as a result, so long as you weren't from Ulster of course. Apart from that, maybe Wasps win over Leicester in 2007 wasn't much craic but virtually every other decider has been nail-bitingly close. We expect Saturday's clash to be the same, the very highest of sporting drama.

3. Star power

As two of the wealthiest clubs in the world, it is no surprise to see Saracens and Toulon at this stage. But that money brings with it the biggest names in the game. Bryan Habana, Drew Mitchell, Matthieu Bastereaud and Jonny Wilkinson are just some of the names on the Toulon side. Saracens can call on the always charming Chris Ashton plus the Vunipolo brothers, Schalk Brits, Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell to name but a few.

It really is fantasy rugby land and while we wouldn't like to be out on the pitch with these monsters, we're more than happy to watch them batter each other from the comfort of our favourite armchair.

4. Someone might do this to Chris Ashton

You can NEVER miss a chance to see this happen, or post this again.

5. To say goodbye to Jonny Wilkinson

We made a fairly big deal of Brian O'Driscoll's retirement, and there will be bucket loads of tributes paid to him next week ahead of his final game in the Rabo final. Jonny Wilkinson deserves similar plaudits. His playing ability was never in doubt and once he finally had a consistent spell free from injury, he was able to fully deliver on his talent. Incredible under pressure on the field, remarkably humble off it and the best left peg in the business, he will be missed by fans of all stripes. Would be great to see him bow out with another European medal.

6. Au revoir Alain

Ireland's top ref Alain Rolland will be whistling his final game on Saturday. We know some Munster fans were not too chuffed with how he reffed the last Leinster/Munster match but taking control of the Heineken Cup final for the third time in his career is a fine way for him to sign off.

7. How will Saracens cope with the pressure?

The last six Heineken Cups have been won by French or Irish sides. For the powerhouses of the Aviva Premiership that is a black mark. Sure they point to schedules, salary caps and national team management as reasons but there is significant pressure on Saracens to bring Euro glory back to England. Will they wilt under the strain?

They blew past Clermont in the Heineken semi and are into the Aviva Premiership final too. Can they carry that fine form into the decider?

8. No pressure on Toulon

Winners last year, they have carried themselves with supreme confidence all season. They dispatched Leinster and Munster professionally and with a place in the Top 14 final also booked, they will arrive in Cardiff brimming with belief. The bookies have Toulon as three point favourites and that sounds about right to us.

Kick off is at 5pm on Sky Sports 2