Franco Smith is bidding to end his first season in charge of Glasgow with silverware. The Warriors’ last major success came in 2014-15 when they beat Munster in the final of the Guinness Pro12. The only previous time a Scottish club reached the final of a European tournament was also in the 2014-15 season when Edinburgh went down 19-13 to Gloucester at the Twickenham Stoop.
Who: Glasgow Warriors v RC Toulon
What: 2023 EPCR Challenge Cup final
Where: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
When: Friday, May 19, kick-off 8pm
How to watch Glasgow Warriors v Toulon
The match is being broadcast live in the UK on BT Sport 1. Coverage begins at 7.15pm. There will also be radio commentary on BBC Radio Scotland Extra, from 7pm.
Neither side have won the Challenge Cup so there will be a new name on the trophy on Friday night. Toulon, however, have an excellent European pedigree having won the top-tier Champions Cup three years in a row, from 2013-15. They have also reached the final of the Challenge Cup four times but lost on each occasion, to Cardiff in 2010, Biarritz in 2012, Bristol in 2020 and Lyon in 2022. Friday will be a record-breaking fifth appearance in the final of the second-tier competition for Toulon. Glasgow have never previously made it to a European final.
Route to the final
Glasgow Warriors qualified for the knockout stages by finishing second in Pool A. They beat French side Perpignan home and away, defeated Bath at the Rec and drew with them at Scotstoun. In the last 16, Smith’s side hammered the Dragons 73-33 at home, then edged past the Emirates Lions 31-21, also at home, in the quarter-finals. The semi-finals paired them with the Scarlets and Glasgow won 35-17 in Llanelli to book their place in the final. Toulon won four from four in the group stage, beating Bath and Zebre Parma both home and away to top Pool A. They took care of Toyota Cheetahs 36-21 in the last 16, Lyon 48-23 in the quarter-finals and Benetton Treviso 23-0 in the semis, playing all three knockout ties at home.
Glasgow Warriors have surprisingly left Rory Darge and Richie Gray on the bench for the final, but both men are likely to play a big role later in the game. Domingo Miotti starts at stand-off for Glasgow who are without the suspended Tom Jordan who was sent off in the URC quarter-final against Munster. Huw Jones and Sione Tuipulotu are paired at centre, with Stafford McDowall named among the replacements. Fraser Brown is the starting hooker, with Johnny Matthews on the bench and George Turner not making the match-day 23. Toulon have brought back the big guns who were rested for the league match against Racing 92 last weekend which means places in the team for South African World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe at full-back, Wales great Dan Biggar at stand-off and outgoing Italy legend Sergio Parisse at No 8. Charles Ollivon, the France international, captains the team and joining him and Parisse in the back row is Cornell Du Preez, the former Edinburgh and Scotland flanker. There’s another familiar face in the second row with the selection of Brian Alainu'uese, once of Glasgow.
English referee Wayne Barnes will take charge of the final at the Aviva and his assistants will be Chris Busby (Ireland) and Craig Evans (Wales). The TMO is Ben Whitehouse of Wales.
The major bookmakers make Toulon odds-on favourites. The French side are available at 4/9 with Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill and Bet365. Glasgow are 9/4 with Betfair and 2/1 with most others. The draw is available at 22/1.