Dan Carter
New Zealand great Dan Carter will hope to win the European Champions Cup in his first season with Racing 92 Stu Forster/Getty Images

A European champion other than Toulon is set to be crowned for the first time since 2012 this weekend, as Top 14 giants Racing 92, formerly known as Racing Metro before their recent rebrand, face reigning Aviva Premiership champions Saracens at the 59,000-capacity Grand Stade de Lyon in southern France.

Where to watch

Racing 92 vs Saracens kicks off at 16.45 BST on Saturday 14 May. In the United Kingdom, live coverage is available on both Sky Sports 2 HD and BT Sport Europe from 15.45.


With an expensive, star-studded squad assembled by outspoken president Mourad Boudjellal, Toulon have simply dominated the continent over recent seasons. Winners of the final two Heineken Cup trophies, they also lifted the inaugural European Champions Cup 12 months ago when the boot of Leigh Halfpenny and tries from Mathieu Bastareaud and Drew Mitchell secured an entertaining 24-18 victory over French rivals Clermont at Twickenham.

A fourth straight triumph appeared a distinct possibility until their stranglehold was finally ended courtesy of a talented Racing side boosted this term by the arrival of two-time World Cup winner, All Black icon and leading points scorer in the history of Test rugby, Dan Carter. The vastly experienced fly-half called time on his illustrious international career after 112 caps in 2015 and became the highest-paid player in the sport by signing a three-year deal believed to be worth £1.4m ($2m) annually.

Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell is a hugely influential presence for Saracens Stu Forster/Getty Images

It would be an insult to the rest of the quality players on show to bill this as merely a battle between two world-class 10s, but there is no doubt that their respective influence should have a decisive impact on the outcome. For Saracens, who reached the final two years ago in Cardiff before falling at the penultimate hurdle against Clermont last time around, Owen Farrell is a hugely reliable goal-kicker and a relentlessly physical defensive presence whose attacking influence is often vastly underestimated.

The Barnet-based English challengers had become accustomed to near-misses over recent years, with last year's Premiership triumph over Bath securing only their second-ever title following two play-off defeats and a heartbreaking extra-time loss to Northampton Saints. Mark McCall's dominant side warmed up for this final with a 43-19 drubbing of Worcester that saw Chris Ashton notch a hat-trick of tries. They face Leicester Tigers in the semi-finals next weekend.

Both of these teams are aiming to secure a maiden European crown and actually met at the quarter-final stage last year, when Saracens narrowly prevailed 12-11 thanks to a booming late penalty from long-range specialist Marcelo Bosch.


Saracens: 15. Alex Goode, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Duncan Taylor, 12. Brad Barritt (c), 11. Chris Wyles, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Richard Wigglesworth; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Schalk Brits, 3. Petrus du Plessis, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. George Kruis, 6. Michael Rhodes, 7. Will Fraser, 8. Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16. Jamie George, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. Juan Figallo, 19. Jim Hamilton, 20. Jackson Wray, 21. Ben Spencer, 22. Charlie Hodgson, 23. Marcelo Bosch.

Maro Itoje and George Kruis have established their second-row partnership at both club and international level David Rogers/Getty Images

Racing 92: 15. Brice Dulin, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 13. Johannes Goosen, 12. Alexandre Dumoulin, 11. Juan Imhoff, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Maxime Machenaud; 1. Eddy Ben Arous, 2. Dimitri Szarzewski (c), 3. Ben Tameifuna, 4. Luke Charteris, 5. Francois van der Merwe, 6. Wenceslas Lauret, 7. Bernard Le Roux, 8. Chris Masoe.

Replacements: 16. Virgile Lacombe, 17. Khatchik Vartanov, 18. Luc Ducalcon, 19. Manuel Carizza, 20. Antonie Claassen, 21. Mike Phillips, 22. Remi Tales, 23. Henry Chavancy.

Route to the final

Racing topped Pool 3 ahead of Northampton, Glasgow Warriors and Scarlets before beating Toulon and Leicester.

Saracens, meanwhile, won all six of their group matches against Ulster, Oyonnax and Toulouse before seeing off Northampton and Wasps in the knockout stages.

What the coaches say

Assistant Ronan O'Gara: "One of our big strengths this year is how united we are. Our values now are a lot better than they were 12 months ago, and people are putting it in for each other. We've installed a different culture and identity, because there's no recent history of winning anything at this club apart from a Pro D2. Now I feel there is a grip on the club which means the club can do something. Previously it wasn't possible because of the standards, but we have something very good building.

"Owen Farrell is the most improved player in Britain and Ireland over the last six months. He's a big threat now. Saracens play for each other, and that's the most important thing. You look at Chris Ashton - it's incredible to think he is surplus to requirements at Test level."

Ronan O'Gara
Ronan O'Gara has worked closely with Dan Carter in his role as assistant coach at Racing ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

Mark McCall: "Of course we want to be able to put our best foot forward, we didn't do that two years ago. Maybe because we weren't good enough, maybe we weren't experienced enough but I think we are experienced enough now and it is important that we put our best foot forward. Part of that is for us to just get into the game, relaxed and ready to enjoy ourselves because in the quarter-final against Northampton we were a bit anxious and a bit worried about the outcome and we certainly don't play our best rugby when we are like that.

"For us it can't be the finish regardless of what happens on the weekend. Of course we want to win it, it would be stupid to say anything other than that and we are capable of doing that. But if we do I'm hoping that it's the start of something rather than the end of something. We have got a really brilliant age profile in our squad, we have got people signed up for the long term. We have got players who are unbelievably ambitious and are eager to get better who are in their early and mid twenties so regardless what happens I believe we are going to play in more of these big matches."