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

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 26 August 2016
Golden Lions v Boland 15h00 Johannesburg
Pumas v Griquas 17h10 Kimberley
Sat, 27 August 2016
New Zealand v Australia 07h35 Wellington
EP Kings v Western Province 14h00 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Blue Bulls 16h10 Durban
Argentina v South Africa 19h40 Salta
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 20 August 2016
South Africa v Argentina 30 | 23
Golden Lions v Griquas 24 | 30
Australia v New Zealand 8 | 42
Fri, 19 August 2016
Blue Bulls v EP Kings 49 | 35
Western Province v Free State Cheetahs 25 | 32
Boland v Sharks 20 | 41
Sat, 13 August 2016
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls 43 | 20
Golden Lions v Pumas 68 | 26
Fri, 12 August 2016
Sharks v Griquas 46 | 24
EP Kings v Boland 10 | 28
Sat, 06 August 2016
Boland v Free State Cheetahs 16 | 44
Hurricanes v Lions 20 | 3
Fri, 05 August 2016
Pumas v Sharks 10 | 33
Blue Bulls v Western Province 45 | 26
Sat, 30 July 2016
Lions v Highlanders 42 | 30
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 6 6 0 0 28
Ulster 6 4 0 2 18
Oyonnax 6 1 0 5 7
Toulouse 6 1 0 5 5
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 16
Bordeaux 6 3 0 3 16
Ospreys 6 3 0 3 16
Clermont Auvergne 6 3 0 3 15
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Racing Metro 6 4 1 1 22
Northampton Saints 6 4 1 1 19
Glasgow Warriors 6 3 0 3 14
Scarlets 6 0 0 6 2
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leicester Tigers 6 5 0 1 23
Stade Francais 6 4 0 2 19
Munster 6 3 0 3 15
Treviso 6 0 0 6 0
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 6 4 0 2 20
Toulon 6 5 0 1 20
Bath 6 2 0 4 10
Leinster 6 1 0 5 6