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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, October 16th 2020

Preview: RC Toulon - Challenge Cup final

Bristol Bears go in search of their first European trophy when they take on RC Toulon in the final of the Challenge Cup at Stade Maurice-David on Friday night (8pm KO, BT Sport 1 HD).

Pat Lam's men saw off Bordeaux-Begles in extra time to book their place in a maiden European final, while RC Toulon cruised past Leicester Tigers to set up a mouthwatering showdown in Aix-en-Provence.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Friday's European Challenge Cup final against RC Toulon.


Match details

  • Date: Friday, October 16th
  • Kick-off: 8pm
  • Competition: European Challenge Cup
  • Where: Stade Maurice-David
  • Ref: Andrew Brace (Ireland). Assistants: Frank Murphy (Ireland), George Clancy (Ireland), TMO: Brian McNiece (Ireland) 
  • Media coverage: BT Sport 1 HD 


Team news

Bristol Bears face a first ever European final when Pat Lam’s men travel to Aix-en-Provence on Friday (8pm KO GMT).

Bears go head to head with European giants RC Toulon at Stade Maurice-David looking to sign off an outstanding 2019/20 campaign with first major silverware since 1983.

Bristol Bears are this season’s leading try scorers (38) and points scorers (302) from their eight matches to date.

Lam makes six changes from the Premiership semi-final defeat, as Alapati Leiua and Harry Randall return to the backline.

In the pack, Dave Attwood lines up against his former side, while Dan Thomas, Yann Thomas and Kyle Sinckler are also included.

John Afoa is listed among the replacements and could feature in his fifth European final if called upon.

Bristol Bears team to face RC Toulon in the European Challenge Cup final at Stade Maurice-David (8pm KO BST):

15. Max Malins; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Siale Piutau, 11. Alapati Leiua; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Ben Earl.

System players: 16. George Kloska, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. John Afoa, 19. Joe Joyce, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Piers O’Conor, 23. Niyi Adeolokun.

RC Toulon:

15. Gervais Cordin; 14. Bryce Heem, 13. Isaiah Toeava, 12. Duncan Paia’aua, 11. Gabin Villiere; 10. Louis Carbonel, 9. Baptiste Serin; 1. Jean Baptiste Gros, 2. Anthony Etrillard (c), 3. Beka Gigashvili, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 6. Charles Ollivon, 7. Raphael Lakafia, 8. Sergio Parisse.

Replacements: 16. Bastien Soury, 17. Florian Fresia, 18. Emerick Setiano, 19. Brian Alainu’uese, 20. Swan Rebbadj, 21. Julien Ory, 22. Tane Takalua, 23. Masivesi Dakuwaqa.


Matchday programme

EPCR is pleased to confirm that official match programmes for the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will be available for sale to fans by mail order ahead of the two showpiece matches.

The high-quality printed souvenir programmes for the Challenge Cup decider between Bristol Bears and RC Toulon in Aix-en-Provence on Friday 16 October, and for the 25th Heineken Champions Cup final featuring Exeter Chiefs and Racing 92 at Ashton Gate the following day are packed with feature articles by leading rugby writers, in addition to squad biographies, tournament statistics and historic data.

Fans can place their orders now with EPCR’s official match programme producer, Curtis Sport, by clicking on the following link:

BUY CHALLENGE CUP FINAL PROGRAMME


Last time out

Toulon 19-37 Bristol | October 17th, 2008 | Stade Felix-Mayol

Bristol beat Toulon 37-19 to record their first win for almost two months in Pool Two of the European Challenge Cup at Stade Felix-Mayol.

Nathan Budgett went over for the first try of the match on 23 minutes, with Lee Robinson scoring the first of his two tries soon after to send Bristol in at half-time with a commanding 20-3 advantage.

Toulon came out strongly in the second period, however, with Sebastian Fauque putting in a fine performance with the boot and centre Olivier Grimaud going over for a score to make it 23-19.

But tries from scrum-half Shaun Perry and Robinson put the game beyond the home side and earned Bristol a much-needed bonus point.

The win lifted Bristol to second in the pool, four points adrift of leaders Northampton. 


Word from the camp

Pat Lam has urged his side to bounce back from last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final defeat to Wasps by winning the club’s first major European silverware.

The Bears travel to Aix-en-Provence to take on three-time Heineken Cup winners, RC Toulon at Stade Maurice-David on Friday night (8pm KO, BT Sport 1 HD) - and the Director of Rugby insists it is a huge opportunity for his squad to make history.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here. 


Form guide

  • Both the Bears and RC Toulon are unbeaten in this season's Challenge Cup - Bristol seven wins and one draw, Toulon eight wins out of eight
  • The Bears suffered a 47-24 defeat at the hands of Wasps in last weekend's Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-final, while Toulon were 25021 victors over Montpellier at Stade Mayol
  • With Bristol Bears and RC Toulon reaching the final, a new name will go on the trophy following Friday evening’s decider in Aix-en-Provence. Bristol, in their first final, and Toulon in their third (2010 and 2012), will each be vying to become the 16th club to win the tournament.

Bristol Bears: LWW
RC Toulon: WLW


Head-to-head

Ben Earl vs Sergio Parisse

Two players at opposite ends of their international careers, emerging England star, Ben Earl faces off against Italian legend, Sergio Parisse in Friday's Challenge Cup final showdown.

Harry Randall vs Baptiste Serin

At number nine, two scrum halves who like to add pace to the game. Randall against Serin is a fascinating clash of pace and zip at the breakdown.


Statto's corner

  • A Toulon success would make them the eighth club from France to win the tournament after Bourgoin, Montferrand/ASM Clermont Auvergne, Colomiers, Pau, Biarritz Olympique, Montpellier and Stade Francais Paris
  • Bears for their part would become the seventh Gallagher Premiership club to lift the trophy after Harlequins, Sale Sharks, Wasps, Gloucester Rugby, Bath Rugby and Northampton Saints
  • Both finalist Head Coaches have experienced European success as players. Toulon’s Patrice Collazo won the Challenge Cup with Gloucester in 2006, while Pat Lam captained Northampton Saints to Heineken Cup glory in 2000. Toulon’s Backs Coach, Julien Dupuy, was also a Challenge Cup winner with Stade Francais Paris in 2017
  • Friday’s match will be the ninth Anglo-French Challenge Cup final with the Premiership currently ahead five by wins to three
  • Toulon are in line to become the first French club to win both the Challenge Cup and the Heineken Champions Cup. Four clubs have so far achieved the European ‘double’: Wasps, Bath Rugby, Leinster Rugby and Northampton Saints
  • Bristol Bears are this season’s leading try scorers (38) and points scorers (302) from their eight matches to date
  • Bristol Bears wing, Luke Morahan has made the most metres this season with 499 and also the most clean breaks with 21
  • If selected, John Afoa will be playing in his fifth European final after three appearances in the Challenge Cup with Gloucester (2015, 2017, 2018), and one in the Heineken Champions Cup with Ulster in 2012. Parisse could feature in his fourth Challenge Cup final after captaining Stade Francais Paris in 2011, 2013 and 2017

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