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Toulon class to edge Clermont in all-French final

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Irishman Alain Rolland will referee the Heineken Cup final between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

Irishman Alain Rolland will referee the Heineken Cup final between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

Irishman Alain Rolland will referee the Heineken Cup final between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

Clermont-Auvergne v Toulon, The Aviva Stadium, Tomorrow (KO 5.0) Live Sky Sports 1

It would reflect well on Leinster were Clermont-Auvergne to deliver on all the potential they have shown over the course of the last three seasons in Europe.

The connection between buddies Vern Cotter, the Clermont coach, and Joe Schmidt, and the titanic struggles between the two clubs in recent years will probably sway the Irish supporters in the audience towards Les Jaunards.

And so it should be. For all of Clermont's spending power – and it is substantial – it pales into significance when set beside the 'money bags' of Toulon.

The seat of playing power rests in France. These are the two best clubs in that country with all the resources, playing and financial, to do battle on two fronts, domestic and European.

This is the fourth all-French final between two clubs who will be here for the first time. Toulouse won all three of the previous editions in 2003, 2005 and 2010.

The burden of expectation weighs most heavily on Clermont. Their trials have been longer; their failures more hurtful.

It took them ten French finals before they could capture their first in 2010. They wobbled worse than a plate of jelly when Munster came hard at them in the final quarter of the semi-final.

Toulon are founded on southern hemisphere and Anglo-Saxon virtues. They have World Cup winners at their disposal in Jonny Wilkinson and Bakkies Botha.

If they can resist the all-court, power surge from Clermont in the first hour, they have the battle-hardened, proven championship winners to bring the Heineken Cup home.

The heart says Clermont, the head Toulon.

Verdict: Toulon


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