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Wales' record in European finals

By Sean Davies

Cardiff Blues became the first Welsh side to win a European trophy in 15 years of competition when they beat Toulon in the Challenge Cup final in Marseille in 2010.

Just three other Welsh sides have made it through to finals - here are the details of four memorable days for Welsh rugby.

HEINEKEN CUP FINAL, CARDIFF ARMS PARK, 7 JANUARY, 1996

Cardiff 18-21 Toulouse (aet)

Cardiff v Toulouse 1996: The first Heineken Cup final

Few knew what to expect from the first season of the Heineken Cup, the tournament featuring teams from France, Wales, Ireland, Italy and Romania, but none from England or Scotland.

Traditional powerhouses Cardiff and Toulouse advanced to the final, the French aristocrats having given an ominous demonstration of their credentials with a crushing 30-3 win over Swansea in the semi-final.

Thomas Castaignede and Jerome Cazalbou gave Toulouse a great start in the final with two tries, but the Blue & Blacks were not about to roll over in their home city.

Fly-half Adrian Davies' boot hauled them back into it, his fifth penalty deep into injury time levelling the game at 15-15.

Christophe Deylaud and Davies exchanged kicks in the extra half hour, then in the closing seconds referee David McHugh penalised Cardiff for handling in the ruck 20 yards from their line.

Deylaud slotted the kick, leaving no way back for the Welsh - who did not think they would have such a long wait for another crack at European glory.

Cardiff: Mike Rayer; Steve Ford (Nigel Walker, 97), Mike Hall, Mark Ring (Jonathan Davies, 40), Simon Hill; Adrian Davies, Andy Moore; Andrew Lewis, Jonathan Humphreys, Lyndon Mustoe, John Wakeford, Derwyn Jones, Emyr Lewis, Owain Williams, Hemi Taylor (capt).
Replacements (unused): Andrew Booth, Howard Stone, Keith Stewart, Mike Griffiths, Paul Young.

Penalties: A Davies (6)

Toulouse: Stephane Ougier; Emile Ntamack (capt), Philippe Carbonneau (Eric Artiguste, 93), Thomas Castaignede, David Berty (Ugo Mola, 69); Christophe Deylaud, Jerome Cazalbou; Christian Califano, Patrick Soula, Christophe Portolan, Hugues Miorin, Franck Belot, Didier Lacroix (Richard Castel, 68), Herve Manent, Sylvain Dispagne.
Replacements (unused): Christophe Guiter, Nicolas Bacque, Olivier Carbonneau, Pascal Lasserre.

Tries: Castaignede, Cazalbou; Con: Deylaud, Pens: Deylaud (2); DG: Castaignede

Referee: Dave McHugh (Ireland)

PARKER PEN SHIELD FINAL, KASSAM STADIUM, OXFORD, 26 MAY, 2002

Pontypridd 22-25 Sale

Sale v Pontypridd

Having thrilled in the early years of the Heineken Cup, Pontypridd carried their battling qualities into the second-tier Parker Pen Shield.

The run to the final saw the valleys warriors win at Saracens in the quarter-final, and at London Irish in the semi.

But Sale at the Kassam Stadium proved a third English hurdle too many, their class in attack ultimately proving too much for Ponty who were outscored by three tries to one.

Brett Davey's boot had given the visitors a 15-3 lead, but tries from Martin Shaw and Steve Hanley put the Sharks ahead.

Mefin Davies reclaimed the lead for Ponty after a typically dogged forward drive, before Charlie Hodgson set up Dan Harris for a try.

When Davey opted to boot a kickable penalty into touch the Welsh side's last chance was lost.

PARKER PEN SHIELD FINAL, MADEJSKI STADIUM, 25 MAY, 2003

Caerphilly 12-40 Castres

Castres v Caerphilly

Caerphilly were Wales' most unlikely contenders for European honours, their bid for glory coming in the last season that Welsh clubs were entered before the advent of regional rugby.

The Cheesemen benefited from a reorganisation of the second-tier tournament below the Heineken Cup.

The Welsh side lost to Harlequins in the first round of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup.

That sent them into a new, third-tier competition, called the Parker Pen Shield, where they overcame Italians Rovigo, Parma and Padova.

The final in Reading was an altogether more formidable affair, though, French powerhouses Castres arriving with a classy team.

Coach Mark Ring's part-timers battled valiantly, but were outscored by five tries to two and Wales' long wait for European silverware was extended.

CHALLENGE CUP FINAL, STADE VELODROME MARSEILLE, 23 MAY, 2010

Cardiff Blues 28-21 Toulon

Cardiff Blues v Toulon

The Blues began the 2009/10 European campaign in the Heineken Cup but - like Caerphilly before them - they benefited from a reorganisation of the second-tier tournament.

The second-placed group sides in the Heineken Cup who did not make the quarter-finals of the premier tournament were instead put into the knock-out stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

The Blues fell into that category, having finished second in their group to eventual 2010 Heineken Cup winners Toulouse.

The Welsh side travelled to Newcastle for their Amlin quarter-final, where they blew away a Falcons side who were more concerned with a fight for Premiership survival.

An impressive semi-final win against Wasps at Adams Park followed, but coach Dai Young's side were big underdogs as they travelled to the south of France to face star-studded Toulon.

The big-spending French outfit took a first-half lead with a Sonny Bill Williams try, but clinical kicking and tries from Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Bradley Davies put the Blues clear in a superb second half.

A late try from Thomas Sourice ensured a tense finish, but the Blues emerged to finally claim European glory for Wales.



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see also
European rugby archive
16 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
Howley named in European dream XV
16 May 10 |  Welsh
Scrum V's rugby history
11 Aug 07 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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