9 May 2016
3 Match-Ups to watch during the Champions Cup
Saracens will face Racing 92 during the final of the Champions Cup in Lyon on Saturday. With England’s upcoming Summer Tour to Australia there will be plenty of England’s Grand Slam winners looking to make a statement on the European Cup scene to cement their position in Eddie Jones’s team for the tough challenges ahead.
We have reviewed the match ups for three England players against their respective counterparts who will be desperate to add to their trophy cabinet this weekend.
Owen Farrell vs Dan Carter
The Prince vs The King, grunt vs guile, World-Cup heartache against World Cup winner… there is no doubt that thousands inside the stadium and millions viewing from home will be fixated on these two rugby superstars. Carter’s incomparable game management – his pinpoint tactical kicks, subtle overloads, ability to make space for his back line, we could go on – has helped Racing’s ascent to European glory. Carter’s skill lies less in his willingness to hog the ball but knowing when to intervene and dictate the play with a moment of genius – allowing his scrum half partner and Racing captain Machenaud to act as the team’s master tactician which Machenaud has been doing with some aplomb. Farrell’s gladiatorial reputation – the big hits, in-your-face aggression – betrays the subtlety of his game which has improved this season. Standing flatter to pick up the ball at first receiver has helped fix in opposition defenders before his improved passing can help create space for his teammates out-wide. If Farrell gets the better of his opposite number – harass, harry and kick his points – then this will go a long way for Saracens to claim their first European trophy. The No.10 England jersey would certainly be his if Farrell were to put in a man of the match winning performance.
Billy Vunipola vs Chris Masoe
Vunipola’s superlative performances during England’s Grand Slam triumph during the Six Nations will need to be repeated against the New Zealand utility hard-man Chris Masoe. At 36 years old, Masoe is a seasoned veteran of high-pressure games across his time with New Zealand as well as his previous club Toulon. He relishes the physical confrontation and Saracens will be attempting to negate his strength and power by offloading before contact and stretching his lungs. However, if ever there was a player to go toe-to-toe with Masoe then Vunipola is your go-to wrecking ball. His priceless ability to commit 2 or 3 defenders due to his sheer destructive potential should create space for others with his improved fitness to regularly go the full 80 minutes helping him on his personal quest to be the best No.8 in the world.
Mario Itoje vs Luke Charteris
Itoje’s performances have been nothing short of miraculous this season. With one full season under his belt he has gone on to not only dominate the 6 Nations but is many pundit’s favourite to be pencilled in for the 2nd row during the Lions Tour against New Zealand next year – an intelligent bruising enforcer who has the athleticism of back, he could go one to become one of the greats of English rugby. Itoje’s all-round contribution will go a long way for Saracens getting the upper hand in the forward pack. Otherwise, Charteris could join a small pantheon of Welsh players to win a European club medal and will be doing his utmost to disrupt the Saracen driving maul with his octopus-like stretch as well as Rolls-Royce Engine in regularly smashing the breakdown.
Please contact Paragon if you would like further information regarding available VIP rugby hospitality packages for the Champions Cup Final. Paragon will further be providing VIP hospitality for England’s upcoming Internationals against Wales, the Australian Summer Tour, Old Mutual Autumn Internationals in addition to the 2017 RBS Six Nations.