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Friday night’s EPCR Challenge Cup final will see one club lift the trophy for the first time as Glasgow Warriors clash with RC Toulon at the Aviva Stadium.
17 clubs have won the EPCR Challenge Cup to date, so either Glasgow or Toulon will become the 18th in Dublin.
BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) outfit Glasgow have enjoyed a stellar EPCR Challenge Cup campaign, reaching the quarter-finals for the first time before seeing off Scarlets to clinch a maiden EPCR final.
Meanwhile, TOP 14 giants Toulon powered into the final for a second year running thanks to a clinical win over Benetton Rugby. The three-time Heineken Champions Cup winners will be looking to triumph in the EPCR Challenge Cup’s showpiece game at the fifth time of asking.
It is set to be a high-quality affair, with Glasgow boasting an array of Scotland internationals and the Toulon squad featuring a plethora of stars with EPCR honours already to their names.
The game kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and will be available to watch on BT Sport, France TV, beIN SPORTS and SuperSport.
Ready to go 💪#BKTURC disappointment hasn’t knocked @GlasgowWarriors’ confidence in securing #ChallengeCupRugby glory on Friday 🏆 pic.twitter.com/SPZp1LvC1E
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) May 15, 2023
Route to the final: Glasgow Warriors
Round 1: Bath Rugby 19 Glasgow Warriors 22
Round 2: Glasgow Warriors 26 USAP 18
Round 3: USAP 26 Glasgow Warriors 40
Round 4: Glasgow Warriors 19 Bath Rugby 19
Glasgow finished second in Pool A on 16 points
Round of 16: Glasgow Warriors 73 Dragons RFC 33
Quarter-finals: Glasgow Warriors 31 Emirates Lions 21
Semi-finals: Scarlets 17 Glasgow Warriors 35
Try scoring MACHINES 😤@GlasgowWarriors scored 3️⃣6️⃣ times in 7️⃣ matches, how many more can they get on Friday night? 🤔#ChallengeCupRugby
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) May 16, 2023
Route to the final: RC Toulon
Round 1: Zebre Parma 21 RC Toulon 24
Round 2: RC Toulon 29 Bath Rugby 7
Round 3: Bath Rugby 23 RC Toulon 35
Round 4: RC Toulon 14 Zebre Parma 5
Toulon finished top of Pool A on 19 points
Round of 16: RC Toulon 36 Toyota Cheetahs 21
Quarter-finals: RC Toulon 48 Lyon 23
Semi-finals: RC Toulon 23 Benetton Rugby 0
Beware of the @RCTofficiel quick tap 😳
Back in the #ChallengeCupRugby Final for the second year in a row, will they head back to Toulon with silverware this time? 👀
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) May 17, 2023
Glasgow Warriors back Stafford McDowall: “We’ve got enough confidence from what we’ve done this season that we’ll take anyone on at the moment. We’ve put in a lot of hard work and we feel that we’re in a really good place going into the game. It’s bubbling nicely. It’s the first time the club have ever been to a European final, so it’s new territory for us and one the players are really excited to get stuck into.”
RC Toulon centre Duncan Paia’aua: “I’ve been here four years and this will be my third EPCR Challenge Cup final. Hopefully, it will be third time lucky and hopefully we can learn from our past experiences. This is one competition the club haven’t won yet and it would be good to have this banner up in the club.”
- Toulon will be appearing in a record fifth EPCR Challenge Cup final on Friday evening. The three-time Heineken Champions Cup winners have never lifted the Challenge Cup, so they could become the fifth club in history after Bath Rugby, Northampton Saints, Wasps and Leinster Rugby to win both EPCR titles.
- Glasgow have reached an EPCR final for the first time in their history, and they will be the second Scottish club to play in a Challenge Cup decider, following in the footsteps of Edinburgh Rugby in 2015.
- Glasgow back-row forward Jack Dempsey leads the tournament statistics in carries (68) and defenders beaten (30).
- Toulon No.8 Sergio Parisse, Waisea Vuidravuwalu and Jérémy Sinzelle could each be in line for a second Challenge Cup title after all three were part of the Stade Français Paris side who defeated Gloucester Rugby 25-17 in the 2017 final at BT Murrayfield.
- Toulon scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue could go one better and make it three winners’ medals. Twice victorious in 2016 and 2021 with Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Paillaugue could emulate Ben Foden and Christian Day, who won with Sale Sharks in 2005, and with Northampton in 2009 and 2014.
- Glasgow hooker Johnny Matthews is the tournament’s leading try-scorer with seven, including a club record of five in the Round of 16 win against Dragons RFC.
- Toulon wing Jiuta Wainiqolo has made the most offloads this season with 16 from his six appearances to date.
- Both Toulon’s principal coaches, Pierre Mignoni and Franck Azéma, were Challenge Cup winners as players. Mignoni was victorious with ASM Clermont Auvergne – along with the club’s current Sporting Director, Laurent Emmanuelli – when they defeated Bath Rugby 22-16 at the Twickenham Stoop in 2007, and Azéma also won with Clermont – then styled as Montferrand – who got the better of Bourgoin in the 1999 decider in Lyon.
- Toulon back-row forward Cornell du Preez, who was previously capped for Scotland, was on the losing side with Edinburgh in the 2015 final.
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RC Toulon clinched the EPCR Challenge Cup for the first time in their history after outclassing Glasgow Warriors in an assured 43-19 victory in Dublin on Friday night.
The French heavyweights, playing in the final of the competition for a fifth time, crossed six times in front of 31,514 fans at the Aviva Stadium, through Baptiste Serin (2), Sergio Parisse, Jiuta Wainiqolo, Waisea Nayacalevu and Ihaia West.
Glasgow endured a difficult first half and although they improved after the break, scores from Kyle Steyn (2) and Sebastian Cancelliere came too little too late.
There was an early setback for Toulon as influential fly-half Dan Biggar was forced off with a head knock, but they were undeterred, scrum-half Serin grubbering through before gathering and dotting down for a superb opening try on four minutes.
First blood to @RCTofficiel 🩸
Baptiste Serin gathers his own cheeky grubber through to open the scoring in the Final 👊#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/jpZDX5O0Lh
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) May 19, 2023
Glasgow produced an error-strewn first half and conceded again with just over a quarter of an hour played, legendary No.8 Parisse crashing under the posts for a fitting score on his final club appearance.
As Glasgow continued to lack accuracy and composure, Toulon made it three tries inside the opening 25 minutes courtesy of Serin’s second effort.
The Scottish region saw a lineout go awry just inside their own half and Toulon pounced, shifting the ball out to the right before Serin dummied and darted over with ease.
Glasgow gradually improved towards the end of the first half but a series of scrums in front of the Toulon posts produced no reward and they went into the break without any points on the board.
In the absence of Biggar, Serin converted all three tries to put his side 21 points up, but he too would be forced off after landing awkwardly when making a tackle in the final play of the first half.
Glasgow enjoyed the better start to the second half but found themselves 24 points adrift on 50 minutes when Toulon replacement scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue slotted a penalty from 40 metres.
BACK AT THE WINNERS TABLE 🏆@RCTofficiel are the 2022/23 #ChallengeCupRugby champions, beating Glasgow Warriors 43-19 in the Final 👏
Head to our TikTok livestream for the celebrations NOW ➡️ https://t.co/xiDlGRwFrj pic.twitter.com/X4DRXLNURn
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) May 19, 2023
Another lineout error then looked to have handed Toulon a fourth try through Charles Ollivon, but the TMO spared Glasgow’s blushes when the flanker was spotted in an offside position.
Wing and captain Steyn then handed Warriors a lifeline as he cut inside to finish clinically, scrum-half George Horne’s conversion reducing the margin to 17 points on 56 minutes.
But Toulon would respond ruthlessly and instantly to that score, with wing Wainiqolo jinking through the contact for a cracking try before centre Nayacalevu fired over from close range five minutes later.
Glasgow would notch two further tries before 74 minutes as wing Cancelliere dived over in the corner before another excellent Steyn finish.
But the trophy had already slipped from the grasp of Franco Smith’s team by that stage, and Toulon signed off a terrific EPCR Challenge Cup campaign when replacement fly-half West glided through in the dying seconds.
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