The 2013 Heineken Cup Final is an all French affair as Clermont Auvernge take on Toulon in Dublin, and with neither team having won it before, a new name will be enscribed onto the famous trophy.
In the eyes of many experts and fans, Clermont are the team to beat, but at their best the star-studded Toulon side, led by 2003 England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson, are a match for any team in the competition.
Sky Sports will have exclusive live coverage of the showpiece final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, May 18, which will also be broadcast on Sky 3D and terrestrial highlights will be shown on S4C.
The masterful fly-half Wilkinson will lead Toulon’s bid to rule Europe as he has been instrumental in his side’s march towards the final.
He kicked all of the French side’s points in their 24-12 victory over Saracens at Twickenham having already dispatched fellow English hopefuls Leicester Tigers in similar fashion in the quarter-finals.
Toulon’s last four tie was billed as a tale of two kickers, the match pitted former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson against his latest successor, Owen Farrell.
Wilkinson easily outscored his opposite number, slotting seven out of seven penalties and landing a superb second-half drop goal.
Ending the game with a haul of 24, the World Cup-winner set a new semi-final points record.
Wilkinson, who has enjoyed a glittering career at club and international level, has never been a winner of Europe’s premier club competition and now he and his team have the chance to change that record, as well as claim Toulon’s first top European honour.
Along with Toulon’s array of international stars – which also includes the likes of Matt Giteau, Mathieu Bastareaud, Andrew Sheridan and Bakkies Botha – he will be desperate to improve on last year’s Amlin Challenge Cup runners-up medal.
Toulon face a massive challenge against the form team in Europe in Clermont Auvergne.
Boasting the likes of France centre Wesley Fofana and former All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu, Clermont have played some irresistible rugby this season.
They booted the reigning champions Leinster out of the tournament after home and away victories over the Irish Province in the group stages, before powering past Montpellier in the quarter-finals.
Clermont secured their maiden final appearance with a 16-10 victory over former champions Munster.
The Irish side drew first blood through a Ronan O’Gara penalty, but Clermont soon took control.
They dominated the opening period and built up a deserved 13-3 half-time lead thanks to Napolioni Nalaga’s try and a conversion and two penalties from Morgan Parra.
Parra added a third penalty not long after the restart, but Munster suddenly sprang into life.
Denis Hurley’s converted try sparked a late onslaught from the two-time tournament winners and Clermont found themselves clinging on.
Determined to avoid a repeat of last season’s semi-final collapse against Leinster, the Top 14 team dug their heels in and successfully closed out the game.
Clermont and Toulon, two fierce French rivals, have dominated the Top 14 this season and were the first teams to secure semi-final play-off places.
They will go head to head for the crown of champions of Europe in Dublin on May 18.
Previewing the final, Sky Sports co-commentator Stuart Barnes wrote in his skysports.com column: “Toulon will not be afraid of Clermont.
“Who would they fear with their stellar cast but they are nowhere near as good a team in any of the departments bar mental hardness and goal kicking.
“Toulon were too physical for Saracens but Clermont are another kettle of fish from a Saracens team who have been exposed as not quite as special as some of the marketing elements within the club would have had us believe.
“Clermont – as they have shown time and again this season – are special. It is their centenary season. In all that time they have only once won the French league. This season the neutrals will be hoping they can claim the Heineken Cup.”
Sky Sports will be the only place to see all the action from the 2013 Heineken Cup Final as it happens. Free-to-air highlights will be broadcast on Welsh-language channel S4C later in the evening.
Sky Sports has exclusive coverage of the climax to the 2013 Heineken Cup at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
This will be the fourth all-French final in the 18-year history of the tournament.
Alex Payne presents exclusive coverage on Sky Sports 1 from 4.00pm, with an hour features and interviews from both camps in the build-up to the match ahead of a 5.00pm kick-off time.
Studio analysis and insights come from a team including Will Greenwood and Dean Ryan, with touchline contributions from Scott Quinnell and Ieuan Evans.
Munster and Ireland’s legendary fly-half Ronan O’Gara will join the Sky team as a special studio guest.
Commentary on the final comes from Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes, while touchline interviews will be conducted by Bill Latham.
Coverage will also be available to watch in 3D on the Sky 3D channel.
For the first time in a major European Cup final ‘RefCam’ will be used, giving viewers a unique glimpse of the action from the perspective of match referee Alain Roland.
A special preview show looking ahead to the final will be included in Sky’s magazine show The Rugby Club on Thursday, May 16.
You can keep up to date with all the latest Heineken Cup reports, score flashes and results by logging onto the Sky Sports rugby union website, or by following Sky Sports’ dedicated rugby union Twitter feed (@SkySportsRugby).
…Saturday 18th May Heineken Cup Final: Clermont v Toulon LIVE: 4.00pm-7.30pm – Sky Sports 1 / Sky 3D
Free-to-air highlights of the 2013 Heineken Cup Final will be shown on Welsh-language channel S4C just hours after the trophy is held aloft by the new European champions.
Pitchside at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin for extended highlights of the game will be presenter Gareth Roberts, alongside Gwyn Jones and Arthur Emyr.Saturday 18th May Cwpan Heineken: Clermont v Toulon Highlights: 10.00pm-11.00pm – S4C (English subtitles available)
BBC Radio 5 live will have live commentary of the 2013 Heineken Cup Final.
Ian Robertson and Alastair Eykyn will lead the team at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, with coverage beginning shortly before the 5.00pm kick-off.
The commentary feed will also be available to listen to via the BBC Sport website, which will also have live text commentary of the entire match as it unfolds.