Heineken Cup 2014: Date, Start Time, Live Stream and Final Preview

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Heineken Cup 2014: Date, Start Time, Live Stream and Final Preview
Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

The biggest game in club rugby plays out this Saturday in Cardiff, as Saracens battle Toulon in the Heineken Cup final. 

The match represents three possible swansongs: One each for Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Borthwick as they retire, and one for the competition itself as the creation of the European Rugby Champions Cup takes its place. 

Saracens have been the form team in English rugby all season and have dominated the Aviva Premiership.

But Toulon are the reigning Heineken Cup holders and are looking to become the first French team to retain the title.

Peter Morrison/Associated Press

Here is how you can catch all of the action from Cardiff this weekend:

 

When: Saturday, May 24, at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET

Where: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, U.K.

TV Info: Sky Sports 2/Sky Sports 2 HD (U.K. only)

Live Stream: Sky Go (U.K. only)/Fox On Demand (U.S. only)

 

Key Storylines

Goodbye to Wilkinson

Claude Paris/Associated Press

Not that long ago, Wilkinson was the David Beckham of his sport. Instantly recognised in the U.K. and to the planet's rugby-playing nations, he was the golden boy of a generation.

Now the England international legend will play his final European match of his amazing career, hoping to topple a strong Saracens side to win back-to-back Heineken Cups for Toulon.

Wilkinson turns 35 on Sunday and will be hoping for a storybook ending, like most of his career has been.

It seems that the player will join Toulon's coaching staff for next season and the club have requested permission to retire Wilkinson's iconic No. 10 jersey, as reported by Oliver Brown of The Telegraph.

And Toulon's owner Mourad Boudjellal was insistent that his club make Wilkinson's exit from playing as special as possible.

Mick Cleary of The Telegraph reports that Boudjellal said:

It really is imperative that we offer Jonny something special this season because we just will not have this sort of opportunity again. And for him to be coming up against an English club in the final, well that may only seem a detail to most people but to him it will mean a lot.

Wilkinson will retire as one of only five individual players to have burst through the 1,000-points-scored mark in international rugby, per the Press Association via The GuardianHis 1,246 points are the second most in history.

And he dramatically kicked the winning points in the 2003 World Cup final to give England a famous win and one of British sport's greatest victories. 

Wilkinson was a shining light to not only everyone who followed his rugby code, but to all sportsmen and women in the U.K. He was plagued by injury for much of his career but always fought back against adversity. 

His time in France, since 2009, has seen him have a renaissance period, and he has once again showed what a special player he is. He will be missed by rugby union, but the knowledge he has amassed will be used to great effect during his upcoming career as a coach.

 

Steve Borthwick to Be Fit for the Final?

David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens will have to wait to hear about the fitness of one of their key players for the Heineken Cup final, with Steve Borthwick struggling with injury.

Borthwick is captain of the side, and he would be a huge miss for the Aviva Premiership club.

The 34-year-old veteran went off during Saracens' recent victory over Harlequins with a chest injury, per BBC Sport, but made his 264th Premiership appearance during the game: more than any other player has in English top-flight history.

However, the former England captain has now returned to light training, and it is hoped that he will make the final.

Harry Engels/Getty Images

Like Wilkinson, this will be Borthwick's swansong, as the player is due to retire after the final, at the end of this season.

He amassed 57 caps for England, per BBC Sport, skippering the country on 21 occasions. 

Saracens coach Paul Gustard said of Borthwick's farewell, per BBC Sport: 

He is our club captain and it is known that Steve is retiring in two weeks' time. It will be a fitting end to a fantastic career, for a guy who has played 57 times for his country and is the most-capped Premiership player, to finish with the Heineken Cup final and the Premiership final. Fingers crossed he will hopefully be fit for the weekend.

With the romance of two high-profile retirements in the air it is easy to forget that a huge game is going to be contested. Toulon have a puncher's chance in the match, and with Wilkinson in the side, anything is possible.

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But Saracens have been magnificent this season, and they should have too much for the French side. If the match runs to form, it will be Borthwick who is lifting the Heineken Cup above his head at the Millennium Stadium, in his last match.

But with Wilkinson around, you just do not know what might happen. 

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