Cardiff Blues take on a formidable Toulon side this Sunday, at 12.45pm. The Blues profile three to watch
A galaxy of rugby stars will descend on Cardiff on Sunday when the Blues take on Toulon in Round 2 of this year’s Heineken Cup. With a proud rugby history having had a resurrection over recent years and reached the final of the Amlin European Challenge Cup twice, narrowly missing out on to Biarritz last season at Twickenham.
However, Blues supporters are more likely to remember the great final in Marseille in 2010 when the Blues came from behind to win by 28 points to 21.
Toulon currently stand at the top of the French Top 14 having only lost one game this season and faced Toulouse in last year's the Top 14 final, narrowly losing 18-12.
John Philip ‘Bakkies’ Botha
Unquestionably ‘Bakkies’ Botha is one of the hardest locks in world rugby and his partnership with Victor Matfield in the Springboks second row is legendary. He has boundless energy, is fleet of foot and a natural footballer. Physical and mental strength, technique, stamina, bravery, resiliance, a fighting never-say-die spirit, endurance, commitment – all of these could be applied to Botha. He won his first cap for South Africa against France at Marseille in 2002, a match the Springboks lost by 30-10. He is known in his native South Africa as ‘The Enforcer’ as a result of his physical qualities. He has always courted controversy and was banned for a dangerous charge on Adam Jones which left the British and Irish Lions prop forward with a dislocated shoulder. However, Jones came out in defence of Botha stating that he had no complaints over the incident.
Matthew ‘Matt’ James Giteau
Matt Giteau has every reason to be at home in Toulon because his great grandfather was born and bred in France. Remarkably the Australian represented his country in three different positions – at fly half, scrum half and at centre threequarter. He won 92 caps for his country and scored a total of 684 points. Matt has always possessed an innate ability to create the unexpected, to mesmerize as well as entertain. He is a powerful, skilful footballer who has become a Boy’s Own hero at Toulon. He varies his angles of running intelligently, always looking to release players in better, more threatening positions. Matt Giteau is certainly an integral part of the Toulon set-up.
Delon is the first native West Indian to play rugby union for England. Think Trinidad and Tobago in a sporting context and images of Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke and Ato Boldon spring to mind but don’t forget the Armitage brothers, Delon and Steffon, who were born in San Fernando, Trinidad. Between 1996 and 2002 the brothers lived in the French Riviera but Delon was rejected by the French Under 16’s who considered him too small and skinny. He’s since won 26 caps for England! From the moment Delon runs onto the rugby field one can sense his charisma and confidence. The bigger the occasion and the larger the crowd, the better his performance. Pace, power and precision – three elements which make full-back Delon Armitage a rugby player to be respected.
Tickets for the Category A match are available online at www.cardiffblues.com/tickets