Young grateful for weekend off
May 17, 2010
Cardiff Blues boss Dai Young is hoping his players will be fresher than their Toulon counterparts on Sunday © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues boss Dai Young believes that his side's failure to reach the Magners League play-offs has boosted their hopes of winning the European Challenge Cup.
The Welsh region needed to beat Munster and deny the province a losing bonus point in their final Magners League mixture of the season but the Blues could only manage a 13-12 victory.
However, finishing outside the top four has meant that Cardiff will go into Sunday's European Challenge Cup final against Toulon in Marseille having had the benefit of two weeks' rest, which should prove a real advantage given that their opponents were in Top 14 play-off action at the weekend.
"Naturally I am disappointed we did not qualify for the Magners League semi-finals," Young said. "However, the advantage of not qualifying meant we have been able to concentrate on the Amlin Challenge Cup final.
"And if you look at Sunday's final in isolation it was probably the best thing that could have happened because it enabled us to have a rest and we were looking a tired team. The rest will do us good and really ignite the appetite to go on and achieve something this year.
"It would be great for the players to get what they deserve - and a European trophy is as good as it comes. But while we know we face a massive challenge, we have set our stall out in only losing two games in Europe in two seasons and now we are in a final.
"We are quite proud of our efforts in Europe and we would love to come away with another European win and the Amlin Challenge Cup title. We are really looking forward to it, and, after a couple of days rest there is no reason why we should not be charging on full batteries."
However, Young was quick to acknowledge that his Toulon counterpart Philippe Saint-Andre has the benefit of being able to pick his starting XV from one of the strongest squads in European rugby.
"They certainly have the budget to buy most players they want - they have got world stars but we are hoping we can get amongst them and we have some real quality players ourselves," he said.
"They could pick one world star and if not him they could pick another world star and we know they have quality so, while we will concentrate on them as much as we can, I believe it is about us bringing our game and imposing ourselves.
"We are very respectful of them and we know that if we give them the space and time they could carve us up so we are determined not to give them that space and time and really make every effort to impose our game on them.
"When you play against any French team and you know it is always going to be a battle up front and we have to make sure we improve on our scrum going into the final as we came second best against Wasps in that area in the semi-final.
"We were thrilled with our support at Wasps and Newcastle and everyone is talking and thinking about the final - it is certainly a very big occasion and one the players, management and supporters are looking forward to."
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter