Monday, April 30, 2012

Heineken Cup - Semi Finals Wrap

 
Ulster 22-19 Edinburgh
1999 Heineken Cup champions, Ulster are into the final after defeating Scottish side, Edinburgh in Dublin on Saturday. The match saw one try being scored per team with Ulster scoring a first half try and Edinburgh leaving it too late as the team´ try was in the 80th minute. Curiously, neither side will play in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 Semi Finals in May. The match was a reminder of the power of rugby with the Irish province of Ulster which, in effect, is essentially Northern Ireland winning the match in the capital of the Republic of Ireland. The venue, Aviva Stadium, attracted a strong crowd despite it being the Northern Irish team, the enemy of the Republic of Ireland in others sports including soccer. While the two Ireland´s are united in rugby and play without any political or religious issues the same is not true in soccer. Neil Lennon, for instance, retired from international duty with Northern Ireland in 2002 following death-threats from supporters  Following a statement of Lennon saying he wished to play for a combined Irish team. While soccer calls itself the beautiful game rugby is the gentlemans game. The USA´s Callum Black did not feature for Ulster while neither of Edinburgh´s Argentine players, Esteban Lozada and Ulises Gamboa, played either.

Clermont Auvergne 15-19 Leinster
Bordeaux was the venue for the second final with a packed stadium yet again in South-Western France.   Many Leinster fans made the trip for the match and it was a memorable match for them, unlike Ireland´s two matches at the same venue in Rugby World Cup 2007. It was far from being a Clermont Semi Final for this reason as the competition organizers srt aside a number o tickets for fans of each team making it closer to being a neutral macth than anything else. With Leinster winning it will be a Republic of Ireland vs Northern Ireland final with the match being played in London. Canada´s Jamie Cudmore started in the secondrow and played the full match for Clermont. He came close to scoring a try in overtime. It would have won the match for the French team. The Argentine-Italian centre, Gonzalo Canale, missed the match as he has been pushed out of the team due to France´s new worldclass centre, Wesley Fofana. Canale is rumoured to be leaving France to play in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 for the new Italian side set to replace Aironi for next season and beyond.

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