Predicting the winners of Saturday’s Heineken Cup final is no mean feat. Some of European rugby’s leading coaches and players have had a go – do you agree with them?
WARREN GATLAND (Wales head coach and London Wasps’ Heineken Cup 2004 winning coach): “It’s a fascinating encounter between two very different styles of play. You have the patience of Munster who simply never give in and know how to keep the scoreboard ticking over, against the brilliance of Toulouse who pose threats all over the park and can score two or three tries at the drop of a hat.
“Toulouse have their vulnerability away from home but they have the chance for their fourth title. I take Toulouse by four points.”
MARC LIEVREMONT (France head coach): “I really hope that Toulouse win. The Toulouse players have the technical, tactical and strategic ability to beat Munster. However, it’s a Heineken Cup final, it will be 50-50 on the pitch with every detail making a difference.
“I won’t go into the different strengths and weaknesses of the teams but both are very strong and this has the potential to be a truly memorable final. Toulouse and Munster have two different styles and the contrast between both clubs should be spectacular. If Toulouse play their kind of rugby, I don’t see why they won’t win a fourth Heineken Cup.”
MICHAEL CHEIKA (Leinster head coach): “It’s going to be a very tight match because they are both very good sides. But Munster have the power, the majority of the fans and they will be very hungry to win it.
“We played Toulouse in the pool stages and, while they are a dangerous team, they have got some of their key players out injured. I’m sure Munster will also want to send Declan Kidney off in a good way so they should edge it.”
YANN DELAIGUE (a Heineken Cup final winner with Toulouse in 2003): “It will be a great Heineken Cup final, both teams have many international players and great European pedigrees. The Millennium Stadium will be packed with passionate rugby fans, the majority from Ireland, all there to enjoy a great party. I spent many years in Toulouse as a player and of course my heart tells me that they will win.
“Toulouse are having an amazing season, not just winning games but winning them in style. Munster are well used to big European games and will be prepared for the battle and unique European atmosphere. The teams are so close it is going to be a really tight final and decided by small details.”
RYAN JONES (Wales Grand Slam-winning captain): “I think Munster will edge it by a whisker, though I honestly believe it could go either way. It’s going to be an exciting clash of styles and ideas between the two clubs with the most experience at this level.
“Whichever side gets their tails up first will prove very difficult to haul back but, with the number of Irish fans expected in Cardiff, they could just prove enough to tip it in Munster’s favour.”
NEIL DE KOCK (Saracens captain): “This really is a tough one to call but I am going for Munster – and not just because they beat us in the semi-finals. I am going for Munster in a tight match because they have been to the Millennium Stadium before and won the Heineken Cup.
“They are familiar with the ground and the place is going to be a sea of red with their fanatical supporters. But there really is virtually nothing between the sides.”