The climax of the Guinness Premiership takes place this weekend, with a familiar showdown between Wasps and Leicester at Twickenham.
Lawrence Dallaglio will be keeping his fingers crossed for the perfect send-off. Capped 85 times by his country and described by Ian McGeechan as “the rock on which the club (Wasps) has been founded, there is no questioning Dallaglio’s status as a rugby legend.
His sniping comments following the World Cup in October left a bitter taste in many a mouth, mine included, but future events have seemed to prove that they were probably true. Now he faces one last hurdle before ending his career at 36.
Leicester Tigers will obviously be looking to spoil the party, in a rematch of last year’s Heineken Cup final when Wasps won as underdogs. The Tigers fill that role this time however, having crept into the final thanks to two narrow-margin victories – a stark contrast to Wasps’ steady march to the top of the table since Christmas.
The other interesting backdrop to the game is the story of Leicester coach, Marcelo Loffreda – he’s desperate for a win to hold onto his job, just a short while after leading Argentina to an unlikely World Cup semi-final. His forwards coach Richard Cockerill had written off Leicester’s chances, but now the players will do everything they can to keep the head man in the job.
Wasps may miss Danny Cipriani, this season’s form player, especially given that back-up fly-half Dave Walder is also injured. Riki Flutey may have to line up against the experience of Andy Goode, whose last-minute dropped goal put the Tigers into the final.
Goode has been involved with five successful Premiership campaigns, and he is still only 28. His England career stuttered slightly following the demise of Andy Robinson, but his club credentials are pretty impressive. His kicking game will be key on Saturday, and tight games like this will inevitably be decided by only a few points.
It is certain to be a thriller, two of the oldest foes going toe-to-toe. Loffreda will be desperate to keep his career going, whilst Dallaglio will want to end his own on the highest note. Make sure you are watching.