I’d be the first to admit that my rugby-playing days are well behind me. I come from an era where there were no substitutes, a try was worth three points, and lifting in the lineout was a penalisable offence rather than a technique to be honed to perfection on the training ground. Highlights of my own rugby career include one game where I played hooker with the legendary British Lion giant Gordon Brown (“Broon frae Troon”, not the former Prime Minister) as my prop, and finding that my feet couldn’t touch the ground in the scrum! What has always impressed me about Rugby Union has been its willingness to change the rules and scoring system in order to encourage faster and more open play. So is the 2010 Heineken Cup Final this Saturday (22nd May) likely to be an exciting spectacle or a dull exchange of long-distance penalties leading to calls for more rule changes? Encouragingly for lovers of open rugby, only once in the history of the Heineken Cup final has the losing side scored more tries than the winner – in 2000 when Munster lost 9-8 to Northampton despite scoring the only try of the match. So what’s likely to happen in Saturday’s game? The trends in recent finals are surprisingly consistent – suggesting there will be two tries scored on Saturday and 36 points in total.
With the final being fought out between Toulouse and Biarritz Olympique (who will proudly wear the Capgemini logo on their shirts!) – the one fact we can be assured of is that the winners will be French!