All roads lead to Lyon for the two very exciting and eagerly anticipated finals, Harlequins playing a very on-form Montpellier side and Saracens to take on the challenge of a Dan Carter’s inspired Racing 92 at the newly built Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Spirits were high at Terminal 5 as we boarded our British Airways flight with both English teams looking to continue England’s good form on French soil. The Elephant and Castle and Wallace Bar provided two watering holes before the match in advance of the 9pm kick off. It was also good to see a number of other club jerseys represented, namely Bath, Gloucester, Leicester and Edinburgh who were all visible throughout the city.
Harlequins offered their fans a pre-match experience at the stadium with exclusive access to a private lounge with former players Will Skinner and Ollie Kohn running a Q&A session. The excitement was there as both Montpellier and Harelquins took the field; both clubs were well represented in what was a huge game for both teams. The French atmospheres are well known for being buoyant and the noise from the crowd when the Montpellier players made either a big tackle or good run was something to behold. Both sides gave their all in the match and unfortunately Montpellier just had too much for Quins; however if rugby had ‘Fergie’ time, it could well have been a different result! The Quins fans went back into Lyon content with the performance in Conor O’Shea’s last match at the helm.
Roll on 12 hours and we were preparing for our second match of the weekend. Saracens had travelled over en masse with every confidence that it could be ‘their year’. Throughout the season, Saracens have been dominant and were many people's and pundits' tip to win the Champions Cup. The match started off like a game of chess with no one wanting to make a mistake. Both teams exchanged penalties in the first half, however the impetus always seemed to be with Sarries. Much was made of the duel between the two number 10s and this was comfortably won by Owen Farrell. Dan Carter was a shadow of his Rugby World Cup final form and limped off after 42 mins. The weather didn’t allow for open rugby and it came down to the accuracy of kicking, both to goal and out of hand. Owen Farrell who was imperious all day would not be defeated. The full time whistle brought on jubilant scenes as Saracens won the Champions Cup for the first time in their history and the celebrations from the thousands of Saracens fans went on long into the night.
It was a fantastic weekend of rugby, played in great spirits by four great teams. Roll on Edinburgh 2017!