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Weekend Rugby Wrap: 5 Takeaways

Bet Central takes a look at 5 takeaways from the European finals and a Super Rugby Pacific, with the two European finals stealing the headlines.

European Finals Super Rugby Pacific Takeaways

The Southern Hemisphere’s premier competition had a full set of fixtures, but it was 2 games in Europe that stole all the headlines this past weekend. Bet Central take a closer look at 5 takeaways from the European finals and a Super Rugby Pacific.

Another Injury Concern Ahead Of The World Cup

It was another injury concern ahead of the World Cup as Blues and All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett hobbled off with an injury on Friday against the Reds. In the short term, the Blues lost their flyhalf who was starting to fire on all cylinders in the last few weeks.

The greater concern of course is in the long-term aspect where if the injury is serious, it jeopardises his chances of going to France at the World Cup later in the year with the All Blacks. He is a crucial member of the squad for Ian Foster’s side and they will be hoping the injury is not as serious and he will be fit in time.

Sergio Parisse’s Final Gigantic Act

In the Challenge Cup final between Toulon and Glasgow Warriors on Friday, it was another Herculean effort from an absolute giant of the game – the great Sergio Parisse. The Italian legend played his part in helping Toulon secure the title in Dublin scoring a try in the 1st half.

This was the final bit of silverware on a glittering CV as Parisse readies to call time on a wonderful career. For the world it was one final opportunity to watch an all-time great doing what he has done for the past 2 decades as efficiently as ever. The French spectatorship will see Parisse one more time in the Top 14 before he hangs up the boots.

Jack Conan Giving Andy Farrell Food For Thought

Part of Leinster’s fast start in the Champions Cup final was the brilliance of Jamison Gibson-Park, the presence of mind of hooker Dan Sheenan and the sheer singlemindedness of Jack Conan on the carry – he had an early appetite for the big carries. They, unfortunately, could not maintain it in the 2nd half, but Conan surely has Andy Farrell’s attention.

The domestic season is slowly coming to its end before all eyes are fixated on the World Cup and Ireland could have a selection dilemma on their hands with Conan’s form. It’s inconceivable that Farrell could break up the loose trio that served him so well in the 6 Nations, but Conan could force his hand.

La Rochelle, An Unstoppable Force

After weathering an early storm from Leinster, La Rochelle assumed control of the game in the 2nd half and never let go, it was a huge credit to Ronan O’Gara and his players that despite the tough start, they never lost their bearings and stuck to what they know best.

Their forward pack was amazing as the big carries from just about every member of the pack fractured the Leinster defensive line. Levani Botia’s hustle and industry got them out of trouble plenty of times. Gregory Alldritt was a titan as a leader and the backline added the gloss to a sensational victory to be crowned Europe’s best for a 2nd year running.

Raymond Rhule Has Proven His Worth

One of the guys who added gloss was Raymond Rhule – once a much-maligned figure in South Africa.  There was 1 or 2 poor defensive reads in the 1st half, but what he offers in terms of work-rate in the La Rochelle side is unreal. 

A willing carrier even off the base of a ruck allowing the big ball carriers to set up for the next phase, Rhule is so adept at Ronan O’Gara’s game, it is no wonder the former Irish international starts him week in, week out. That Rhule is a 2-time European champion is a moral victory for a player who has not always been treated fairly. He has proved his worth.

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