Pivotal generation gap in Euro Final

Tue, 20 May 2014 11:36
Large jonny wilkinson   owen farr

England legend Jonny Wilkinson knows that current England flyhalf Owen Farrell will be a tough nut to crack when they square off in the European Cup Final.

England legend Jonny Wilkinson knows that current England flyhalf Owen Farrell will be a tough nut to crack when they square off in the European Cup Final.

The clash at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday will be Wilkinson's penultimate match before retirement, with both French side Toulon and English club Saracens looking to complete the first leg of a European and domestic league double.

Wilkinson, Farrell's senior by 12 years, got the better of the Sarries man when Toulon defeated the London club in the semifinals of last season's European Cup before going on to lift the trophy.

But the 22-year-old Farrell is a better player now than he was then and Wilkinson, after confirming his impending retirement on Monday, said that he has plenty of respect for his counterpart's mental strength.

"I think Owen Farrell and Saracens or Owen Farrell and England at the moment are very much the same thing.

"He is a representation of all that is good in those teams at the moment in terms of his skill level, his understanding of the game, leadership qualities and such like," the drop-goal hero of England's 2003 World Cup final win added.

"I think the consistency of his performance and also his mental toughness, which is quite something to behold, has given a huge amount of strength and solidity to all the teams he plays in.

"He seems to be a guy you are able to build things around because of that consistency and that mental ability to keep going and pushing further and going into some of the harshest rugby environments there are, and really dominate."

If Toulon win this weekend they will become only the third club after England's Leicester and Irish province Leinster to retain the European Cup.

Saracens, however, will go into the match buoyed by the knowledge of their incredibly dominant 46-6 thrashing of Top 14 giants Clermont in the semifinals last month.

"We are used to hearing about Clermont putting scorelines like that on other teams, so immediately after hearing the result you do think 'that's a hell of a performance'," Wilkinson said.

"It was the situation that Saracens managed to put Clermont in, in terms of the pressure they put them under, scoring points, getting ahead, forcing errors and making Clermont having to take more risks.

"It still takes one hell of a team to do that, especially in a semifinal of the European Cup."

Another Saracens and England star who has caught Wilkinson's eye is loose forward Billy Vunipola.

"I was at the France-England game (this season) and could see that guys like him would be the future of rugby itself," Wilkinson, who retired from Test rugby after the 2011 World Cup, said.

"It's very exciting to see the professionalism taking hold, the games getting quicker and more skillful.

"Billy, although he is playing with a No 8 on his back, is capable of doing pretty much anything. These are the guys we will be watching for many years to come."

AFP

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 3 3 0 0 15
Ulster 3 1 0 2 8
Wasps 3 1 0 2 6
Harlequins 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 3 3 0 0 14
Saracens 3 2 0 1 10
Ospreys 3 1 0 2 8
Northampton Saints 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 3 3 0 0 14
Exeter Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Montpellier 3 1 0 2 8
Glasgow Warriors 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 3 2 1 0 11
Castres 3 1 1 1 7
Leicester Tigers 3 1 0 2 6
Racing Metro 3 1 0 2 6
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Toulon 3 3 0 0 12
Bath 3 2 0 1 9
Scarlets 3 1 0 2 7
Treviso 3 0 0 3 3