The Heineken Cup reaches its glorious climax this weekend, with an all-French final taking place in the Paris sunshine between Biarritz and Toulouse.
Toulouse have been the best team in the competition by some distance, and have recorded some impressive results on their way to the final.
Beating Stade Francais and Leinster in the knockout stages is certainly no easy task, but Toulouse dispatched both teams with a minimum of fuss, and they were so convincing that you never really expected them to get beaten in either game. Their cast of internationals includes Clement Poitrenaud, Thierry Dusautoir and Yanick Jauzion, and their experience makes them favourites to lift the trophy.
Nevertheless, Biarritz have also been quietly effective, making their way through the draw playing some pretty decent rugby. Imanol Harinordoquy has been a key figure in their success, arguably more so than Iain Balshaw or Ayoola Erinle, and pictures of the French Number 8 in that extraordinary face mask protecting his broken nose effectively communicated his dedication to the cause.
He now has a broken rib to contend with, but it looks as though he’s going to fight the pain again, and if he can muster that sort of commitment from the rest of his side, they might just stand a chance.
It looks like a slightly one-sided affair, but I’m quietly backing Biarritz because I’d love to see an upset.
Here are the SportGuru Community Prediction stats, which show considerable support for Toulouse. The average prediction is Toulouse by 5, which is slightly within the handicap betting of Toulouse +7 so that could be worth a fiver with Paddy Power!