CHRIS KIRWAN: More to finalists' success that money
10:07am Thursday 22nd May 2014 in Sport
IT'S fair to say that Saracens and Toulon are not short of a bob or two but it would be churlish to bill Saturday's Heineken Cup final as a clash of the moneybags.
If the English side lift the trophy this weekend then there will be murmurs from those that doubt they stick to the Aviva Premiership salary cap while if the Frenchmen retain the silverware then some will grumble that the mercenaries have triumphed again.
But let's not pretend that any of the quarter-finalists are paupers, the other six just haven't spent their money as well recently.
Saracens have developed this team over years and are now arguably the best English side in over a decade since Martin Johnson's Leicester.
Sarries have a hunger for success with burgeoning English talent (watch out for lock/flanker Maro Itoje at the Junior World Championship) bolstered by quality imports like Schalk Brits and Jacques Burger. They play for each other and have developed a winning culture.
It must be said that cash helps on that front, but it doesn't guarantee success and there are countless examples across all sports of teams getting it wrong.
THE HEINEKEN Cup ends on Saturday evening to be replaced by the European Rugby Champions Cup. Thankfully that will also bring an end to the Sky Sports whitewash.
Just like it sometimes seems the top flight of English football only began in 1992, European club rugby sometimes only goes far back as 2003.
Granted, Sky have played a huge part in the rise of the tournament but there are some wins from the BBC years that are not lauded as much others.
Brive's 1997 destruction of Leicester, Ulster's 1999 beating of Colomiers, Northampton's 2000 triumph against Munster and a misfiring O'Gara and the Tigers' thrilling win against Stade Francais in 2001 – a game to rival Leinster's 2011 comeback against the Saints – tend to be the victims of TV bosses being selective with their history.
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