European Rugby Challenge Cup final online or watch on TV with BT Sport
Cardiff Blues v Gloucester live stream and TV channel information, plus an in-depth match preview, team news, odds and more ahead of Friday’s European Rugby Challenge Cup final showdown on BT Sport.
Cardiff Blues v Gloucester live stream, TV coverage and highlights will all be provided exclusively by BT Sport on Friday night as the Cherry and Whites go for European Rugby Challenge Cup final glory in Bilbao.
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Cardiff Blues v Gloucester: Match preview
Gloucester will look to end an encouraging first season under Johan Ackermann on a high as they take on Cardiff in the final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Heavy defeats by Bath and Saracens in the past two weeks consigned the Cherry and Whites to a seventh-placed finish in the Aviva Premiership, despite spending much of the campaign in the top half of the table.
However, that disappointment is largely offset by the fact that they have already secured their place in next season’s European Rugby Champions Cup by virtue of reaching Friday’s showpiece at the San Mames in Bilbao.
Cardiff’s prior qualification for the tournament through finishing fourth in their Pro14 pool (the third-placed Cheetahs cannot compete) means Gloucester are now awarded the available place by default.
That certainly removes an element of jeopardy as they seek to join Harlequins as the most successful team in the history of the Challenge Cup by adding a third title to their 2006 and 2015 triumphs.
Ackermann admitted as much as he urged his men not to dwell on the underwhelming end to their domestic campaign.
“We took a bad blow but the nice thing about this is six days later you get the opportunity to take all that pain away and put a lot of smiles so we’re just going to focus on that,” he said.
“We’ve played some brilliant rugby during the whole season, we can’t get down in a hole and start shutting down.
“The focus for this competition was that it’s a route to the Champions Cup and now we’ve ticked that box it takes a little bit of pressure off on this final and we can go out and express ourselves, just play and enjoy it.”
Extra motivation for Gloucester should be provided by the painful memories of their heart-breaking 25-17 reverse against Stade Francais in last year’s final at BT Murrayfield.
Ackermann also knows the agony of losing in finals only too well, having watched his Lions side miss out on the Super Rugby title in 2016 and 2017 with defeats to Hurricanes and Crusaders respectively.
“If the players are as excited as I am hopefully it will go well,” he added.
“I told the players, again it’s not about me, it’s about them and it’s about Gloucester but the disappointment of the last two years losing in finals – I just want to be on the right side of the result.
“It’s not a lot of times you get the opportunity to be involved in finals so I just want to embrace it and enjoy it again and it’s a privilege to be part of a team again that’s playing a final.”
Gloucester made it to their third Challenge Cup final in four years with a 33-12 home win over Newcastle Falcons, having seen off Connacht 33-28 in a last-eight thriller in Galway.
And as they prepare to lock horns with Cardiff in the Basque Country, they can also draw upon their 46-26 dismantling of the same opposition in last year’s quarter-finals.
Leading 26-20 midway through the second half at Kingsholm thanks to a brace from Alex Cuthbert and the boot of Steve Shingler, the Blues appeared on course for a famous victory.
The Cherry and Whites had other ideas, though, turning the game on its head to book their semi-final place with three tries in 12 whirlwind minutes, sending the Shed into ecstasy in the process.
However, Cardiff are likely to provide an even sterner challenge for an injury-hit Gloucester squad on Friday night.
“They’re a team with a lot of threats,” added Ackermann.
“They’ve got a very good loose trio and a very good back line and definitely a side that contest the breakdown quite a lot.
“Again, they showed when they were down and nobody gave them an opportunity they surprised everybody so they’re a side that will fight for everything.
“We had to look at them and obviously plan where we think we can attack them and maybe adapt a few things but it’s important we still play to our philosophy, our DNA and our style.”
Cardiff certainly deserve such respect after the impressive nature of their passage through this season’s competition.
Having topped a group featuring Sale, Toulouse and Lyon with five wins out of six, they then carved out triumphs over Edinburgh and Pau to secure their place in the final.
The maturity on show in those two knock-out performances suggests the Blues are unlikely to be overawed as they seek their first-ever European trophy.
They also have the additional incentive of delivering a fairytale farewell for coach Danny Wilson, who is due to join Wasps as a forwards coach for next season.
“Both of us have got real ‘X-Factor’ players and I think that both of us will try and play some rugby,” said Wilson.
“You can’t get all romantic about it and be all things to all men, so we won’t be a million miles away from what is our DNA and Gloucester will be the same.
“Looking at Gloucester, they play a huge amount of rugby. They’ve got an identity that has been put in place this year.
“But there are certain elements of the game in terms of a game plan that we want to try and put in place to beat what is a very well-drilled and well-coached Gloucester team.”
Will Wilson write his name into Cardiff folklore and clinch his dream sign-off?
Or will Ackermann carve out his own piece of history and deliver a debut campaign to remember?
It has all the ingredients to be a classic – just make sure you join us live from 7.15pm on Friday to find out who will take the spoils.
Cardiff Blues v Gloucester: Team news
Cardiff Blues v Gloucester: Selected match odds
Cardiff Blues: 5/4
Cardiff Blues +2: 10/11
Gloucester -2: 10/11