It is winner-takes-all time in the Amlin Challenge Cup – and there is a massive amount at stake when Harlequins and Stade Français Paris clash in the showpiece final under the Cardiff City Stadium floodlights on Friday night (7.45 pm).
While Harlequins have a tournament treble in their sights and Stade Français Paris attempt to make it third time lucky after twice falling at the final hurdle in the Heineken Cup, the rewards on offer for the winner of the 15thtournament are both immediate and long term.
In addition to coveted European silverware the winner will also collect their passport into next season’s Heineken Cup.
Neither team has qualified for the 17thHeineken Cup through their domestic tournaments – Harlequins finished agonisingly short in seventh place in the Aviva Premiership and Paris in 11thplace in the Top 14 – but Friday night’s winner will automatically book their place in European club rugby’s elite tournament next season as the 23rdqualifier.
And they have both seen off 2010 / 2011 Heineken Cup opposition in the knock-out stages to reach the prestigious final.
Munster and London Wasps, both former double Heineken Cup champions, and reigning French champions ASM Clermont Auvergne were the three Heineken Cup Pool runners-up to join the Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners in the knock-out phases.
Harlequins beat London Wasps 32-22 in the quarter-finals and then inflicted a rare Thomond Park defeat on Munster by becoming only the second club to win a European tie at the ground with a 20-12 semi-final triumph.
Stade Français Paris accounted for Clermont 29-25 in the last four to set up a fascinating final between two of the original 2010 / 2011 Amlin Challenge Cup starters.


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