Well, Dublin will be the centre of European rugby over the next 2 weeks, with the Heineken, Amlin and Rabo finals taking place in the city. Leinster features in both the Amlin and Rabo finals, with their opponents being Ulster in the Rabo final.
The Amlin takes place this Friday (17th) at 8pm, at the RDS. Landsdowne hosts the Heineken final on Saturday 18th, at 5pm, while the Rabo final takes place next week, Saturday 25th, at 4.45pm, also at the RDS.
Leinster managed to beat Glasgow, in a very close game, by 17-15, in the Rabo semi-final last weekend. Leinster scored first with a penalty, but Glasgow responded quickly with a try, with 2013 Lions Stuart Hogg converting.
Glasgow were leading 10-3, but Leinster responded with a try, by Heaslip, and though Jonny Sexton couldn’t convert it, he kicked a penalty, which made the score, 11-10 to Leinster.
Sexton scored 2 more penalties, making it 17-10 to Leinster going into the last 10 minutes of the match. Glasgow shocked Leinster by scoring a last-minute try, but Hogg failed to convert, giving Leinster the win, and the place in the Rabo final.
Ulster had a slightly easier time beating Scarlets, 28-17. Ulster were patchy in places but did enough to win the game. The Scarlets made a last-minute surge, scoring a try, but they were unable to deny Ulster their place in the final.
It’s a fitting end to the Rabo, as Ulster have topped the Rabo table for most of the year, while Leinster have been a close second. Leinster have a better team, but will be tired after competing in an Amlin final, while Ulster will be able to rest their players.
Leinster will face Stade Francais in the Amlin final this Friday. Stade have had a difficult season, finishing 10th in the French Top 14. They were more successful in the Amlin, obviously, but Leinster will still start as favourites.
Leinster do have some injury concerns, though (surprise, surprise!). Brian O’Driscoll had to leave the field during the game against Glasgow, while Sean O’Brien was unable to compete in the match.
There are also concerns about Fergus McFadden and Gordon D’Arcy. O’Driscoll’s injury isn’t believed to be serious, but he will be aggravating any injury by playing in back-to-back finals over the next 2 weeks, before even starting the Lions tour.
Toulon face Clermont in the Heineken Cup final, at the Aviva stadium on Saturday. Clermont go into the match as favourites, though they have their own injury concerns to deal with, with their captain, Rougerie, been out for nearly a month.
There will be a lot of interest in the performance of Toulon out-half Jonny Wilkinson, especially amongst Lions fans, as it seem inevitable that he’ll be joining the tour at some point. Let’s hope he can keep himself injury-free (a big ask with Wilkinson).
The 2013 Lions met up earlier today for their first get-together. Apart from Brian O’Driscoll, who was recovering from a back injury sustained against Glasgow. The rest of the squad seemed in good health, though for how much longer is the question.
There are still a few matches to go, and 14 of the squad will feature in one match or another. 6 of the Lions will feature for Leinster in their 2 finals that are coming up. Tommy Bowe will also feature, for Ulster, in the Rabo final.
Though Wilkinson isn’t a 2013 Lion yet, officially anyway, both Matt Stevens and Gethin Jenkins will be featuring for Toulon in their Heineken final. There will be more Lions competing when Leicester face Northampton in the Premiership final.
Lion’s coach Warren Gatland has himself admitted that he’s concerned about injuries occurring during these matches. He’s also stated that none of the players featuring in the finals will line-up for the Lions against the Barbarians, on June 1st