NEW YORK, NY – At long last… It is time for the Heineken Cup Final! With the promise of buying a few rounds, I was able to get our Expert Panel together for a final Heineken Cup meeting. It is rare to get them all in the same place and even rarer to see me break out my wallet but we finally convened and named our picks and reasons why… Just to review, The Panel is comprised of West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, Ireland’s quick-witted fly-half (that’s redundant) Kevin Fegan, the infamous Ireland National, Declan Yeats, feisty French #8 Pyk O’Kallapfer, contrived Kiwi Johnathan Wicklow Barberie and England’s own, Jamie Loyd. The Six Pack, as they are called, are like a variety pack of cheap beer; fun for a while but you will not be feeling well later.
The Heineken Cup:
ASM Clermont Auvergne v Toulon
This is the one we have all been waiting for. Here are the groups picks and reasons why:
BLABER: Incredibly hard call. Toulon and Jonny Wilkinson are playing some good rugby behind a dominant pack. However, the coaching edge goes to Vern Cotter of Clermont. Toulon have yet to beat Clermont in the Top14 this season with one win and one draw. Toulon have no answer for Wesley Fofana at 12 and that will be the difference.
FEGAN: Going with Clermont. Captain Aurelien Rougerie is back and Clermont are gunning for perfect season. They are the Top 14 regular season champs, they could win the H-cup and the Top 14 playoffs. They have the right international pick and mix of stars.
PYK: Have to go with Toulon. Wilkinson is playing some of the best rugby of his life. I feel sick after praising an Englishmen.
JWB: Toulon by 5 … For the following reasons:
-Every time an all-French final has been played, the winner’s name started with a T. (Toulouse)
-“ASM Clermont Auvergne” looks too busy on a championship ball-cap. “Toulon” is much more “cap-friendly.”
-Sir Jonny Wilkinson thrives under pressure and he’s coming off consecutive Man of the Match performances. He’s primed for another – as long as Tongan star Opeti Fonua isn’t on the pitch to run him over:
-Dublin is like a second home to Welshmen, and Gethin Jenkins is Welsh, so it’s like a home game for Toulon.
-Toulon has the VW of Volkswagen on their tummies, which means their engine is solid.
YEATS: Toulon. Was gonna have a long complicated list explaining, but after my friend and windbag JWB’s list, Toulon is my pick – good ol’ Wilks…
LOYD: Toulon. They are led by Englishmen, Jonny Wilkinson, Andrew Sheridan and Steffon Armitage. It is no coincidence they are dominating in France. Watch them lift the cup!
Amlin Challenge Cup: The Heineken Cup’s little brother, the Amlin Challenge Cup final is happening tonight. It is like an appetizer before the main dish. The winner can say they are the 9th best team in Europe.
Leinster V. Stade Francias
We are all in rare unison. In a match that is going to be played in Leinster‘s home ground, we just don’t see how Stade Francias is going to come out on top. We do want to wish US International Scott LaValla of Stade the best of luck though. We would love for the men in pink to surprise us, but we don’t see it happening. There will be a sea of blue in the stands and the men of Leinster will give their fans a show.
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @Mathew Drew Turner and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.