On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the Heineken Cup Final at Twickenham as a guest of Heineken with assorted members of the trade press. The match was keenly contested between two Irish teams; Leinster, the heavy favourites and Ulster, the plucky underdogs. Not having any Irish in me, and slightly swayed by an Ulsterman in our group, I decided to back Ulster which proved to be an error of judgement!
Following a buffet pub lunch and fuelled with the rosy glow that a few bottles of Heineken provides, we made our way to the stadium by coach and, once there, to our fantastic seats near the pitch and next to the players tunnel.
Being so near to the pitch, the first thing that struck me was the size of the players close up – frighteningly large (and that was just the backs, never mind the forwards). I’ve never been so mesmerised by men’s thighs before! No wonder my school decided I wasn’t quite cut out for rugby.
The match kicked-off and both teams indulged in some exciting running ruby with some fairly brutal collisions thrown in for good measure.
However, as the game progressed it soon became apparent that despite Ulster’s best efforts and some vociferous support from the stands, they were not going to be victorious and Leinster ran out deserved winners by 42-14, the third time in the last four years in which they have been crowned Europe’s finest.
But the fun didn’t end at the final whistle as we were promptly led to the ‘Club Heineken’ suite in the stadium for more hospitality and the chance to watch the Champions League final which Heineken also sponsor. A thoroughly depressing experience and surely the only time in football history that a German team has lost a penalty competition?