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Live Reporting

Mike Henson

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    Second row Ali Williams tells Sky Sports that he has "never loved an Australian as much as I loved Drew Mitchell when he scored that try."

    The team spirit does seem very strong at the heart of the Toulon team.

    That is fine bit of management to bring in so many big names and big contracts and not get rid of the spirit.

  2. Post update

    Clermont Auvergne meanwhile trudge down the tunnel. Can they take revenge in the Top 14 knock-out stages?

  3. Post update


    Toulon lift the new Champions Cup with plenty of the players thrusting three fingers into the Twickenham sky.

    Just to reinforce the point the players are handing t-shirts plastered with a big number three as they go and celebrate with their fans.

  4. Get involved via #bbcrugby

    Exceptional circumstances then...?

    Luke: Abendanon and Armitage are exceptional circumstances. They are the best! @nick_abendanon should have been Eng#15 3 years ago!

    Mike Martin: Ludicrous that RFU bar French-based Armitage and Abendanon from England. World Cup should be best XV, come what may.

    Gully: In a world cup year you have to pick your best players no matter where they play. That means Abendanon and Armitage

  5. Post update

    Drew Mitchell was one of that group of Australians abroad who was given a route back into the Wallabies squad last month as the ARU relaxed his restrictions on foreign-based players.

    That electrifying score in the second half might be the sort of thing he is planning for the World Cup pool meeting with England on the same ground.

  6. Post update

    Clermont centre Jonathan Davies speaking to Sky Sports: "It is a tough one to swallow at the moment. Our discipline cost us at times and we fell off some tackles. The effort was there, it was just the execution.

    "We came off the boil in the middle point of the game, but a couple of errors let them back in the game. There is hugely disappointment. we have to get silverware for this town."

  7. Post update

    Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal is on the pitch is a state of disbelief.

    Jonny Wilkinson looks on with a content grin on the sidelines.

    Are the key parts of the best club team in European history? I think so.

    The best club team in the world? Quite possibly.

  8. Post update

    Clermont opted for a crossfield chip on the final play. Surely the wrong option with the ball in hand and the clock against them?

    It was all or nothing. And Clermont come up with nada.

    Bryan Habana claims the ball and is awarded a penalty as he is taken out in the air. He just has to trot off the field to bring the game to a close.

  9. Full-time

    Clermont 18-24 Toulon

    Toulon win a third successive European Cup.

  10. Post update

    Clermont 18-24 Toulon

    They missed the corner! Extraordinary.

    Toulon boot downfield. Abendanon runs it back to within 20m. Incredible.

    What a game.

    It is still in the balance. Clermont still pressing for a winning score.

  11. Post update

    Clermont 18-24 Toulon

    But now Toulon knock on at the line-out. Put-in for Clermont....

    And now a penalty to kick for the corner...

  12. Post update

    Clermont 18-24 Toulon

    A big call!

    Nigel Owens rules that Mathieu Basatreaud clamps down over the top of a breakdown legally and awards the penalty to the holders.

    Proper Toulon celebrations greeted that decision - both on the pitch and in the stands.

  13. Post update

    Clermont 18-24 Toulon

    Clermont now. They are working through the phases and are up to the Toulon 22m line. What a final.

  14. Post update

    Clermont 18-24 Toulon

    Toulon are knocking on the door for more. Up and around the Clermont 22m. One more try would put the game to bed.

    But the support is a little slow to the breakdown and Nigel Owens parps in Clermont's favour for hanging on.

  15. Try

    Clermont 18-24 Toulon - Drew Mitchell (missed con Halfpenny)

    What a try!

    Drew Mitchell takes a ball on the burst on the Clermont 10m line and just leaves a trail of destruction behind him. Six defenders are left choking in his jetstream as he jig-and jags through the Clermont team and shirts over for a sublime solo score.

    Twenty-four carat quality for the Wallaby.

    Conversion narrowly missed by Halfpenny. Could that be costly? The gap is six...

    Drew Mitchell
  16. Post update

    Clermont 18-19 Toulon

    Clermont feel like the coming force in the game right now.

    There is a belief about the boys in white and that is what they need to put a tiger in their tank.

    Scrum-time on the Toulon 22m line. The holders could do with taking their time over this and gathering their thoughts.

  17. Post update

    Clermont 18-19 Toulon

    Fifteen minutes left and a one-point ball game. Whose's your pick?

    Clermont force a line-out up in the Toulon 22m as Ludovic Radoslavjevic spots Leigh Halfpenny is not at home.

  18. Disallowed try for Toulon

    Clermont 18-19 Toulon

    Toulon are within a whisker of stretching back clear.

    Ali Williams, gathering a fortunate bounce off the foot of Clermont full-back Nick Abendanon, plunges over in the corner, but loses control of the ball just before he grounds.

    What a see-sawing, momentum-changing couple of minutes.

  19. Try

    Clermont 18-19 Toulon - Nick Abendanon (con Lopez)

    Nick Abendanon

    Come back Nick, all is forgiven.

    One of the cheekiest tries you will ever see.

    Nick Abendanon, whose chip was punished in the first half with a Toulon try, dinks the ball over the top of Carl Hayman and gathers to stroll in unopposed.


  20. Post update

    Clermont 11-19 Toulon

    Clermont v Toulon

    Clermont are inching closer. Up to the Toulon 22m. And over. Phase after phase...

  21. Get involved via #bbcrugby

    Michael Griffiths: Farcical if Steffon Armitage doesn't make the World Cup squad, so good at the breakdown, guarantees at least 2 turnovers a game

  22. Post update

    Clermont 11-19 Toulon


    Drew Mitchell must have that one pencilled into his diary last month, he had Jonathan Davies lined up so far in advance.

    Davies clings on an retains the ball in a thumping tackle from the Toulon wing.

  23. Post update

    Clermont 11-19 Toulon

    Basic errors are costing Clermont.

    A decent little rolling maul rumbles up over halfway, but the hard work goes to waste as replacement Julien Bardy spills a simple pass as they attempt to shift the point of attack.

  24. Replacement

    Clermont 11-19 Toulon

    A change at scrum-half as well with Ludovic Radoslavjevic replacing Morgan Parra at nine for Clermont.

  25. Post update

    Clermont 11-19 Toulon

    Clermont have summoned Aurelien Rougerie off the bench. The legendary centre is on in place of wing Naipolioni Nalaga.

    A 34-year-old on the wing? I'm not sure his nous will compensate for the ageing legs out wide.

  26. Post update

    Clermont 11-19 Toulon

    Clermont trail by eight. They are backed up against the wall with no choice but to play.

    They are going to have to mine deep into their reserves of team spirit and hope they hit champagne.

  27. Penalty

    Clermont 11-19 Toulon - Leigh Halfpenny

    Leigh Halfpenny

    A bit of contact lens bother, but even shooting with only one eye is not enough to put Leigh Halfpenny off.

    Another pure strike, another three points.

  28. Post update

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

    This is kamikaze. Toulon kicking out from just near their own 22m and Clermont wing Noa Nakaitaci spills attempting to gather.

    He then compounds things by slinging the ball away in frustration with Bryan Habana buzzing around him. Habana squeals in frustration and referee Nigel Owens obliges with the penalty.

  29. Replacement

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

    A couple of changes with Levan Chilachava replacing Bakkies Botha in Toulon's second row, while Thomas Domingo is on for Vincent Debaty in the Clermont front row.

  30. Post update

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

    Matt Giteau punts long upfield. That is a whisker away from perfection, turning Naipolioni Nalaga, but overcooking the touchline.

    Line-out back up on the Toulon 22m line for Clermont.

  31. Post update


    It is a busy day in central Clermont...

  32. Post update

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

    Steffon Armitage rampaging through the middle, bumps off Nick Abendanon. Where's the support? There it is!

    Matt Giteau, with flyers outside him, darts for the line. He is hauled down just short and his death-or-glory offload, slung out the side-door just before his hits the deck, flies straight into touch.

    Drew Mitchell and Leigh Halfpenny were waiting for something better.

  33. Kick-off

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

    Juan Martin Hernandez lofts up a high kick-off. Again Clermont are flaky underneath it, a second row leaping and not getting anyway near it. But Noa Nakaitaci bails out his team-mate and claims possession.

  34. Post update

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

    Right, ready? We are ready to go once again.

  35. Post update

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

    Nick Abendanon

    If that Mathieu Bastareaud try proves decisive, Abendanon is going to suffer in the post-match autopsy.

    With 40 minutes already up, Clermont full-back Nick Abendanon's chip into midfield was high-wire rugby when something more safe and secure would have done.

    Chris Masoe shrugged off the full-back as he tried to get in a tackle and make amends and galloped off downfield.

  36. Get involved via #bbcrugby

    Nick Powell: That Twickenham attendance is poor, still a lot of noise from the French Fans, they love their rugby

  37. Post update

    What is French for, "you've won it once, now go out and win it again"?

    Clermont coach Franck Azema needs to get Alf Ramsey on his players.

    They were hitting Toulon from all angles in the first ten and were asking all the questions. They need to rediscover that.

  38. Half-time

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon

  39. Try

    Clermont 11-16 Toulon - Mathieu Bastareaud (con Halfpenny)

    You don't stop him from there.

    Mathieu Bastareaud crashes his dumper truck frame between Davit Zirakashvili and Noa Nakaitaci as the prop and the winger run out of mates and find themselves alone trying to cover three Toulon attackers.

    Leigh Halfpenny resumes normal service with a lovely ping from out wide.

    Clermont led 11-3 at one point, they head to the dressing room five points adrift.

  40. Post update

    Clermont 11-9 Toulon

    A bit of an undercooked chip from Nick Abendanon is gathered by Chris Masoe and Toulon are pressing for a try...

  41. Post update

    Clermont 11-9 Toulon

    Both teams are still chucking it around when there is a bit of space around. Nick Abendanon slings a long pass out to Jonathan Davies to get Clermont charging down the left wing.

    Toulon shut down that attack and then run from deep themselves as Matt Giteau slips Naipolioni Nalaga with a lovely bit of soft-shoe shuffle.

  42. Get involved via #bbcrugby

    Sanj: Is Toulon winning the European Cup like Chelsea winning the by scoring set pieces in tight ugly matches

    Andrew Lavoipierre: ‏Nigel Owens is by far the best referee in the world all about communication just brilliant

  43. Missed penalty - Halfpenny

    Clermont 11-9 Toulon

    Leigh Halfpenny kicks for goal

    It was a couple of metres in from where his previous successful attempt was from, but Leigh Halfpenny cannot repeat the trick. A little shunt wide of the uprights.

  44. Post update

    Clermont 11-9 Toulon

    Toulon are turning the screw. It is not complicated. Another ball stuffed up the jumper, another Benjamin Kayser infringement and another penalty that Leigh Halfpenny will take on..

  45. Penalty

    Clermont 11-9 Toulon - Leigh Halfpenny

    And that was almost all of his own making.

    Leigh Halfpenny puts up a snowy up and under, claims ahead of a leaping Clermont player and and then another is tempted to delve a hand into the ruck.

    Halfpenny is as dead-eyed as ever, splitting the sticks with a thump off that big bertha of a boot.

  46. Penalty

    Clermont 11-6 Toulon - Leigh Halfpenny

    On the 22m line, slightly off on an angle and Leigh Halfpenny just strokes the ball through the sticks like he is popping coins into a parking meter.

  47. Post update

    Clermont 11-3 Toulon

    Toulon regain another kick-off. The have been very street-wise and saavy there.

    And it has earned them a pop at goal.

    This is well within Leigh Halfpenny's capabilities.

  48. Try

    Clermont 11-3 Toulon - Wesley Fofana (missed con. Lopez)

    Wesley Fofana scores for Clermont

    One mistake, one mismatch, one try.

    Morgan Parra is sharp and brave to charge down opposite number Sebastien Tillous-Borde's kick from the base of a ruck. The ball shoots sideways and bounces up into the hands of Wesley Fofana.

    There is a red shirt opposite him, but it is filled by Chris Masoe. Fofana motors round the outside and into the corner with Masoe failing to lay a fingernail on him.

    Lopez fails to nail a tricky conversion from way out wide.

  49. Post update

    Clermont 6-3 Toulon

    Napolioni Nalaga nad Bryan Habana collide

    A bit of grind and grunt around the middle third of the pitch. Both teams struggling to break down the opposition.

  50. Post update

    Clermont 6-3 Toulon

    Leigh Halfpenny gets his first aerial test, competing for a high ball with Naipolioni Nalaga.

    Neither of them claim it cleanly, but luckily for Halfpenny Drew Mitchell is back to hoover up the bobbling ball.

  51. Post update

    Clermont 6-3 Toulon

    Toulon's defence is suffocating. Up very quickly in the backline and grappling and grasping at the breakdown.

    Clermont want the ball quicker out for rucks to catch them a little less organised.

  52. Get involved via #bbcrugby

    Matt Giteau loses the ball in a tackle

    So far, so tight.

    Your thoughts are welcome via #bbcrugby and 81111 on text from UK mobiles.

  53. Post update

    Clermont 6-3 Toulon

    Jamie Cudmore is back on after treatment for Clermont. Julien Pierre has been keeping his second row spot warm and departs.

  54. Penalty

    Clermont 6-3 Toulon - Leigh Halfpenny

    Pretty much a gimme for Leigh Halfpenny.

    Toulon force a penalty after a couple of big carries from Drew Mitchell and Mathieu Bastareaud and that is bang in front and not far out.

  55. Penalty

    Clermont 6-0 Toulon - Camille Lopez

    Camille Lopez kicks a penalty

    Leigh Halfpenny is thrown by a wicked bounce as he attempts to field a long kick by Camille Lopez. The British Lion manages to gather before Wesley Fofana and Nick Abandanon can pilfer the ball. But he has hung on and that is a penalty.

    Up steps Camille Lopez and, from a bit of an angle, that is a belter.

    Six points up.

  56. Post update

    Clermont 3-0 Toulon

    Jamie Cudmore - Clermont's enforcer in the second row - has got to head off to get some treatment. He has picked up a shoulder problem getting stuck into Toulon number eight Chris Masoe.

    Julien Pierre is on in his place.

  57. Post update

    Clermont 3-0 Toulon

    A sneaky little stub of a kick-off and Toulon regain the ball. Matt Giteau snipes through a glimmer of a hole in the defence, but knocks on as the cover snares him.

    Turnover and Clermont sniff space wide. Out it goes and there might be something on here. Jonathan Davies puts boot to ball, doesn't get the bounce he hoped for and that is a bit of a waste.

    A frantic start here.

  58. Get involved via #bbcrugby

    Andrew Priestley: ‏So many match-winners on the pitch. We could be in for a classic, helped by the fact that Nigel Owens is refereeing the game.

  59. Penalty

    Clermont 3-0 Toulon - Camille Lopez

    Toulon prop Xavier Chiocci is pinged at scrum-time. Clermont decide they will take the points their early dominance deserves.

    Camille Lopez is trusted ahead of Morgan Parra and delivers.

  60. Post update

    Clermont 0-0 Toulon

    Clermont recycling at speed, spreading the ball and hitting angles from off the protractor. Toulon's defence is spread very thinly...

  61. Missed drop-goal

    Clermont 0-0 Toulon

    Camille Lopez snaps a drop-goal chance. It is partially charged down and is back into team-mate Morgan Parra's mitts.

    Clermont with all the early energy.

  62. Post update

    Clermont 0-0 Toulon

    Nick Abendanon offloads in the early stages

    Oh my.

    Nick Abendanon with some immediate stardust, standing up his man, darting on the outside and flicking a one-handed offload out to Nalaga on the wing.

    The big wing bares down on Bryan Habana with the tryline just 10m away. Excellent from Habana who jockeyed his man, kept his eyes up and rattled in with a clean tackle.

    Nalaga could have at least thrown a step in though.

  63. Kick-off

    Clermont 0-0 Toulon

    Camille Lopez kicks us off, that is safely gathered by the Toulon forwards and Sebastien Tillous-Borde returns fire with a box-kick which floats out for a line-out just short of the Toulon 10-metre.

  64. Post update

    Nigel Owens is in charge for this. It is his fourth European final.

    He will keep it flowing.

  65. Post update

    Toulon are the first into the tunnel. Matt Giteau takes on a final sip of water.

    Damien Chouly turns to issue a final dressing room word to his troops before marching out to take up his place alongside Carl Hayman.

    A nod from an official and the two teams stride out.

  66. Post update

    Clermont fans at Twickenham

    The crowd at Twickenham have just been treated to a full chorus line of can-can girls.

    I imagine that is as cheesy as a set of Morris dancers at the Stade de France.

    The skirt-twirlers head to the sidelines and we are ready for the teams.

    The Clermont fans have their banners and flags fluttering. You sense they need this more than Toulon.

    Another season of so near yet so far would be crushing.

  67. How they got here


    Bryan Habana

    Group: A 25-21 defeat on the pitch, Delon Armitage offering fans out in the bar and Martin Castrogiovanni launching into an X-rated tirade at his former club in the press room - Toulon's visit to Leicester was the most lively of their group games. The rest were routine wins over the Tigers, Ulster and Scarlets.

    Quarter-final: Wasps got closer than the scoreline suggests, closing to within seven points with 10 minutes to go, but Toulon pressed the pedal once more to stretch away to a 32-18 win.

    Semi-final: Nerve-jangling, buttock-tensing drama as Leinster and Toulon finished 12-12 after 80 minutes and headed into extra time.

    The defending champions edged ahead through Leigh Halfpenny's boot, but looked up against it as Ali Williams was dispatched to the sin bin. But Bryan Habana snaffled an interception and disappeared upfield in a cloud of dust to win the game.

  68. How they got here


    Wesley Fofana

    Group: Clermont were straight into the deep end, travelling to Saracens - who had beaten them in last season's semi-final - in their very first game. They lost 30-23 at Allianz Park, but won their next five, taking revenge on Saracens in France and doing the home-away double over Munster and Sale.

    Quarter-final: Premiership leaders Northampton hammered in a Richter-scale registering 37-5 victory.

    Semi-final: Another last-four reunion with Saracens and this time Wesley Fofana's score proved decisive in a tight 13-9 win.

  69. We've been here before

    Delon Armitage

    This is the first European Cup final played out between the same two teams to have contested one on a previous year.

    Clermont enjoyed 68% of possession, 75% of territory and led 15-6 in the second half of the teams' 2013 meeting.

    But they came away with runners-up medals as Delon Armitage streaked into the corner for the decisive score.

    Armitage upset plenty with a cheeky wave and tongue poke at Brock James as the Clermont fly-half pursued him in vain that day.

    If Clermont win today, I'm not sure they will have many consoling words for Armitage senior, who is on site but out injured.

    Brian Moore
  70. Post update

    Matt Giteau

    Toulon's big guns have been singing off the same hymn sheet ahead of today's match.

    Australian star Matt Giteau described Clermont as "a very beautiful team".

    "To me, they're the best team this season because they've played well all the time and got the job done. I think they're the favourites this weekend," he added.

    Owner Mourad Boudjellal was similarly full of praise, saying that Clermont have been the best team in the competition and deserve to win the final.

    "They are the undisputed favourites. They owe it to their city, their fans, they owe it to themselves," he said.

    Maybe all honest opinions.

    But I'll wager Toulon also think Clermont get a bit choky when it comes to big games.

  71. Post update

    Jonny Wilkinson

    What's that? A big game? A vacancy at 10?

    Sadly Jonny will be keeping that microphone in place rather than pulling on the studs this afternoon at Twickenham.

  72. Post update

    Clermont fan

    The hard core of Clermont's yellow army has descended on Twickenham and they have come revved up.

    Very loud, very yellow and very hungry.

    The side from the Massif Central are bankrolled off the back of the Michelin tyres that are manufactured in the town.

  73. James out, Lopez in for Clermont

    Big news.

    Clermont Auverge have made a late switch and it is right in the heart of the team.

    Brock James is out and Camille Lopez steps up from the bench to replace him at fly-half.

    Lopez steered France around in the Six Nations. He is a decent player, but a cut below Brock James for me. That Clermont backline thrives off his flashes of brilliance. See the semi-final against Saracens.

  74. This season's leading try scorer

  75. Same, Same, but different

    European Champions Cup

    This the first European Champions Cup final.

    Last season, it was the Heineken Cup, but the new name and tweaked format was born out of an administrators' spat so mind-numbingly boring and of such labyrinthine complexity that it makes renewing your passport seem easy.

    Twenty teams rather than the Heineken's 24 and more money heading to the English and French teams.

    Those are the main differences. Have they made it better?

    Well, the competition is stiff from the get-go now, but if it becomes the same old names in the last four each year then it may need a more progressive approach to redistributing television dosh.

  76. One to watch

    Clermont's Jonathan Davies

    Jonathan Davies

    Halfpenny's compatriot Jonathan Davies is still waiting to score his first try for Clermont Auvergne, but after Aurelien Rougerie injured his arm against Sale in January, the Welshman has become first choice.

    No mean feat considering Rougerie is an institution - a former captain who has been part of the club since he was six.

    The Clermont website writers clearly hold Davies in high regard - "The Welshman is probably the most talented player of his generation in his position", they write.

    That might be pushing it a little....

  77. One to watch

    Toulon's Leigh Halfpenny

    Leigh Halfpenny

    With Jonny Wilkinson hanging up his ever-accurate boots on the back of Toulon's 2014 European Cup and domestic title double, the French champions splashed big to secure Wales' Leigh Halfpenny from Cardiff Blues.

    Halfpenny is not the talismanic figurehead of the Toulon side that fly-half Wilkinson was, but the full-back's kicking has been pretty tidy.

    He has racked up 92 points in the competition so far this season.

  78. Perfect pitch, patchy in stands


    There is going to plenty of space to stretch out and little queuing at the bar at Twickenham today. Half an hour to go and there are plenty of green seats in evidence.

    It is expected that the attendance will peek above 50,000, but not a lot more.

    That is partly because there are two teams from France playing - only 8,000 supporters are expected from over the Channel - but the timing has not helped.

    With less than two weeks since the end of the semi-final there has been little time to get the hype rolling and more emphasis in France on the Top 14 climax, with the final on 13 June.

    Yep, 13 June. No-one this side of the equator should be playing rugby then. Unless it is touch sevens in flip-flops.

  79. A rare sight...

    Steffon Armitage

    Just stepping Hosea Gear there....

  80. One to watch

    Toulon's Steffon Armitage

    Steffon Armitage

    Australia wing Drew Mitchell has said it would be "a cop-out" for England not to pick him.

    Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes adds that he is "too good to leave out."

    So far though England coach Stuart Lancaster has resisted the calls to call up Steffon Armitage.

    It might be easier to ignore those arguments of team-mates and pundits, than the figures the open-side is piling up though.

    Armitage is streets ahead of everyone else on the pitch today in terms of pilfering ball, having secured 19 turnovers in eight European matches this season.

  81. Post update

    Nick Abendanon's case is not the most pressing in Stuart Lancaster's in-tray though...

  82. Post update

    Nick Abendanon

    Nick Abendanon on his chances of making England's World Cup squad: "With how well I and Steff are playing, I think we have both done our part.

    "Stuart Lancaster is the only one who can make that decision, it is out of our hands. It is not anything that we can really change."

  83. Post update

  84. One to watch

    Clermont's Nick Abendanon

    Nick Abendanon

    When full-back Lee Bryne headed back to Wales at the end of last season, Clermont chose to replace him with another British import.

    Abendanon's dangerous running ability and solid tackling had been a key part of Bath's back three for 10 years, but had not been able to quite take the step up to the England team - making just a couple of appearance way back in 2007.

    Transplanted to France and playing alongside the like of Wesley Fofana, Aurelien Rougerie, Morgan Parra and Brock James, he has blossomed.

    So much so that some have called for Stuart Lancaster to hit that "exceptional circumstances" button and call up the 28-year-old, despite him plying his trade across the Channel.

  85. Post update

    Toulon fans

    "Well, we are in town anyway..."

    A group of Toulon supporters warmed up their vocal cords with a little sing-song outside St Marys hospital in central London this morning - after hearing that the Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted to give birth to the latest royal sproglet.

    I can't really think of anything appropriate.

    A gutteral "heave", usually reserved for a rolling maul near the line?

    Or a nice rendition of La Marseillaise - revolutionary anthem that signalled the end of the royal lot over the Channel?

  86. Get involved

    via #bbcrugby on Twitter and 81111 on text

    Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon - two talents whose hopes of playing in the World Cup have been slimmed right down by playing aboard.

    Similarly Toby Flood's self-imposed exile out at Toulouse has cleared the way for George Ford to take his chance as England fly-half.

    So it is open season on the Rugby Football Union's stance.

    Which, if any, player should England coach Stuart Lancaster invoke the exceptional circumstances clause to bring in to his squad?

    Have England shot themselves in the foot or is it essential to keep the Premiership a strong and competitive competition?

    Let me know via #bbcrugby on Twitter, 81111 on text from UK phones and the BBC Sport Facebook page.

  87. Team news

    Toulon v Clermont (17:00 BST)

    So first things first, let's have a look at what quality these two sides are putting out on the park.

    Firstly, from a British perspective, the big news is that Wales centre Jonathan Davies starts for Clermont, lining up against international team-mate Leigh Halfpenny and England's exiled flanker Steffon Armitage.

    Nick Abendanon, formerly of Bath, is also in the Clermont side, but Delon Armitage misses out on a place in Toulon's squad after breaking a bone in his hand during the semi-final win against Leinster.

    Toulon's selection especially is more galaxy than a team-sheet. Matt Giteau, Bryan Habana, Carl Hayman, Bakkies Botha and Ali Williams have 405 international caps between them.

    Clermont Auvergne: N Abendanon; N Nakaitaci, J Davies, W Fofana, N Nalaga; B James, M Parra; V Debaty, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili, J Cudmore, S Vahaamahina, J Bonnaire, D Chouly (capt), F Lee.

    Replacements: J Ulugia, T Domingo, C Ric, J Pierre, J Bardy, L Radoslavjevic, C Lopez, A Rougerie.

    Toulon: L Halfpenny; D Mitchell, M Bastareaud, J M Hernandez, B Habana; M Giteau, S Tillous-Borde; X Chiocci, G Guirado, C Hayman (capt), B Botha, A Williams, J Smith, S Armitage, C Masoe.

    Replacements: J-C Orioli, A Menini, L Chilachava, J M Fernandez Lobbe, V Bruni, R Wulf, F Michalak, R Taofifenua.

  88. Post update

    Mourad Boudjellal
    Image caption: Toulon owner and president Mourad Boudjellal

    Two and a bit million pounds is the difference between the 10m euro salary cap in the French top-flight - the Top 14 - and the £5m restriction in its English equivalent - the Premiership.

    The Pro12 sides also lag behind the French, with the Welsh regions self-imposing a skinny £3.5m maximum.

    This season the difference is really starting to show.

    A star-studded Toulon side have barrelled their way to a third successive final, where they will face Clermont - who walloped Premiership leaders Northampton 37-5 en route.

    Today's showdown at Twickenham will be the fifth all-French final. It won't be the last.