Rugby Union – The Fight for European Titles at Murrayfield
The 2017 European Rugby Champions Cup Final Weekend gets underway today, and two English teams will be hoping to clinch prestigious titles at this exciting rugby union event. So which European trophies are at stake and which teams will be competing for them?
A Brief Guide to the Event
The European Rugby Champions Cup Final Weekend officially started yesterday, but the on-field action doesn’t begin until this evening. This eagerly anticipated rugby union event is taking at place at Edinburgh’s BT Murrayfield Stadium.
The weekend’s matches include two key European tournament finals which will take place in the main stadium: the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final and the European Champions Cup Final. A third match, the European Continental Shield final, will be held on the venue’s back pitches.
European Rugby Challenge Cup Final – Gloucester vs. Stade Français
The match to decide the winner of the first of the coveted rugby trophies on offer this weekend kicks off at 8 p.m. tonight.
Gloucester, who beat La Rochelle by 16–14 in their semi-final match, are hoping to raise the Challenge Cup aloft for the second time in the tournament’s three-year history. The Cherry and Whites, who seized the famous rugby cup in 2014-15, also won the previous incarnation of the tournament, the European Challenge Cup, in 2005-06.
They’ll be taking on Stade Français, who narrowly defeated Bath (28-25) in their semi-final, thanks to a late drop-goal from Jules Plisson. The French ‘Top 14’ club’s players will be aiming to clinch the trophy for the first time. They made it to the final of the European Challenge Cup in 2010-11 and 2012-13, but were defeated by Harlequins and Leinster respectively.
European Continental Shield – Enisei-STM v Krasny Yar
The 2016-2017 European Continental Shield final will be an all-Russian affair. Enisei-STM will take on Krasny Yar at midday on Saturday 13 May. With the two Krasnoyarsk-based rivals each hoping to win what’s turned out to be a derby match, it’s sure to be a hard-fought tie. Not only is the final a huge deal for the teams, both of whom have qualified for next year’s Challenge Cup due to their performance in the competition, it’s a must-watch match for anyone interested in Russian rugby.
European Champions Cup Final – Clermont Auvergne vs. Saracens
The weekend’s last match kicks off at 5 p.m. on Saturday – and it’s the second rugby cup final of the event to feature an English team. Saracens will be seeking to add some more silverware to their collection in the form of the European Champions Cup.
If Saracens triumph, they will retain the title that they won against Racing 92 last year. The English club, who were runners-up in the 2013-14 edition of the Heineken Cup – the tournament which was replaced by the Champions Cup the following season – defeated Munster in their semi-final this year.
Their French opponents, ASM Clermont Auvergne, were runners-up in the 2012-13 Heineken Cup and the 2014-15 European Champions Cup competitions, having been beaten by Toulon on both occasions. They’re sure to be fired up to go a stage further this season but, according to the experts, Saracens are the favourites for the win. Whatever happens, however, it’s sure to be a compelling match.
Will you be watching any of the European rugby union matches at BT Murrayfield this weekend? Who do you think will take the trophies home?