This season’s European Rugby Challenge Cup final on Friday night will feature two sides in Bristol Bears and RC Toulon who go in search of a first success in the competition.
Here are 13 stats and facts ahead of the clash:
- Bristol Bears and RC Toulon have met twice previously in the Challenge Cup during the pool stage in 2008/09. Bristol won 39-11 at home and 37-19 at Stade Mayol.
- Bristol or Toulon will become the 16th different club to win the Challenge Cup. Bristol have qualified for the final for the first time while Toulon have reached this stage twice previously, losing to Cardiff Blues in 2010 and to Biarritz Olympique in 2012.
- Bristol (W7, D1) and Toulon (W8) are undefeated in this season’s tournament and for both clubs, it represents their longest unbeaten run in the competition.
- Bristol have averaged the most carries (150), metres gained (562), clean breaks (18.3), defenders beaten (32.9), passes (223) and offloads (12.3) to date, and they’ve also won the joint most turnovers (7.3), level with Toulon who have the best tackle success rate this season (88%).
- A Toulon success would make them the eighth club from France to win the tournament after Bourgoin, Montferrand/ASM Clermont Auvergne, Colomiers, Pau, Biarritz Olympique, Montpellier and Stade Francais Paris.
- Bristol Bears for their part would become the seventh Gallagher Premiership club to lift the trophy after Harlequins, Sale Sharks, Wasps, Gloucester Rugby, Bath Rugby and Northampton Saints.
- Toulon are in line to become the first French club to win both the Challenge Cup and the Heineken Champions Cup. Four clubs have so far achieved the European ‘double’: Wasps, Bath Rugby, Leinster Rugby and Northampton Saints.
- Bristol’s Luke Morahan has made the most clean breaks (21) and the most metres (499) of any player in the competition.
- Toulon’s Baptiste Serin has been directly involved in more tries than any other player (10), scoring three and recording a competition-high seven assists.
- Gabin Villière (RC Toulon) has made 329 metres from his 24 carries, and his average gain of 13.7 metres is the best rate of any player to make 15+ carries. Villière has also won eight turnovers this season, the most of any back and second most overall behind Jack Willis of Wasps (10).
- Of the players who are likely to feature in the final, Toulon’s Sergio Parisse and Raphael Lakafia were Challenge Cup winners with Stade Francais Paris in 2017, while John Afoa and Yann Thomas of Bristol Bears were tournament winners with Gloucester in 2015
- If selected, Afoa will be playing in his fifth European final after three appearances in the Challenge Cup with Gloucester (2015, 2017, 2018), and one in the Heineken Champions Cup with Ulster in 2012.
- Bristol’s Semi Radradra, who has been shortlisted for the EPCR European Player of the Year award, made an impressive 24 carries for 122 metres in the thrilling extra-time semi-final win over Bordeaux-Bègles.