The biggest teams in European rugby union will battle it out  as the Heineken Cup kicks off for the last time on Friday night.

It looks like it will be the last time that the competition is held, with English and French clubs confirming that they are leaving the competition due to an ongoing row over qualification for the tournament., and setting up their own competition.

The tournament has been held since 1995, and is certainly the competition that all rugby fans look forward to. 

And once again, the French teams will go in as favourites to win it. Last year's final, held at the Aviva stadium in Dublin, was contested by two French teams - Toulon and Clermont. And it was Jonny Wilkinson's side Toulon that won the match 16-15, to collect their first ever Heineken Cup trophy.

In the last few years, French club rugby has grown in strength, and the domestic sides, Toulon, Clermont and Toulouse, all have very strong squads - thanks largely to the absence of a salary cap rule that British teams have to abide by.

But expect the Irish and English teams to be strong. Munster and Leinster are usually at least in the quarter-finals, and have five European Cups between them. They also have similar squads to last season, so expect a strong challenge from both. It will also be Brian O'Driscoll's last season as a player - what a way it would be to go out with a cup win.

As for the English sides, Saracens perhaps have the best chance of an English team winning the competition for the first time since London Wasps won it back in 2007. They have started the domestic campaign with a 100 percent record, and will surely make at least the semi-finals. Leicester also have a very strong squad, and could be a big threat.

But it is hard to look at anything other than a Toulon defence. They have some of the best players around at the moment, including Mathieu Bastareaud, Bryan Habana and of course Mr Wilkinson. The final will be held at Cardiff's Millennium stadium. 

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Topics:
#Heineken Cup
#Toulon
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