Our event of the day is the European Rugby Champions Cup final contested between Leinster and Racing 92 at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao. For the first time in Champions Cup history the big final takes place outside one of the Six Nations. Leinster were the best side of the pool stage, before dispatching the reigning champions Saracens in the quarter-finals (30-19) and the Scarlets in the semi-finals (38-16), so now have a huge opportunity to win all the games on their way to the trophy, like Saracens did in the 2015-16 season. It would be a record-equaling fourth title for the Irish side after their triumphs in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Racing have reached the final for the second time in their history (they lost to Saracens in 2016) with away victories against Clermont (28-17) and Munster (27-22) in the knock-out stages.
In the semi-final against Munster, back row Wenceslas Lauret made a match-high 20 tackles. Leinster have won comfortably in their only two meetings to date with the French side, both in the 2010-11 season – 38-22 at home and 36-11 away. Leinster Quartet of Johnny Sexton, Isa Nacewa, Devin Toner and Cian Healy are aiming to emulate the achievements of Cédric Heymans and Frédéric Michalak who have four Champions Cups each. Racing’s fly-half Dan Carter hopes to finish his European club career by winning the only major trophy that has evaded him so far. (Dan Carter has been ruled out of the Champions Cup final at the last minute with a hamstring injury, with Remi Tales replacing him on the Racing 92 bench.) We can expect a spectacular showdown at the San Mamés Stadium.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs series opener between the Winnipeg Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights at the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg. The Jets reached the Western Conference Finals after beating the Nashville Predators 4-3; while the Golden Knights, in their debut season, got the better of the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs second round. It’s Day 2 of the Pakistan Tour Test match between Ireland and Pakistan at the Village in Dublin; as well as Day 2 of the County Championship Division One clash between Nottinghamshire and Lancashire at Trent Bridge. The eighth day of the 2018 Giro d’Italia sees a 209km long mountain stage from Praia a Mare to Montevergine. It’s Day 7 of the ATP and Day 8 of the WTA World Tour Mutua Madrid Open at the Madrid Caja Mágica. In the AFL, Port Adelaide host the Adelaide Crows at the Adelaide Oval. It’s the third day at both, the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open at the Verdura Golf and Spa resort in Sciacca; and The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. In the MLS, FC Dallas clash with LA Galaxy at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco. The UFC 224 event, with the main event between Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington, takes place at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Leinster Rugby (1st picture); Racing 92 (2nd picture)
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