The fans will be missing but today's Heineken Champions Cup final at Ashton Gate has all the other ingredients you could hope for. A new name on the trophy is guaranteed
Champions Cup final Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch
The biggest match in Exeter’s history, perhaps too in Racing 92’s history. And yet sadly today’s Heineken Champions Cup final (4.45pm) will be played behind closed doors, at Bristol’s Ashton Gate, instead of in Marseilles, which was meant to have staged the finale to the competition’s 25th anniversary season.
Inevitably, without supporters, the sense of occasion is diminished. But try telling that to the victorious camp this evening. The Chiefs are in their first European final and, ahead of next week’s Premiership date with Wasps, are bidding to emulate Leicester, Wasps and Saracens by winning a domestic and European double.
Racing, beaten Champions Cup finalists in 2016 and 2018, are praying it will be third time lucky. The victor will become the 12th club to take the crown.
The Chiefs start as narrow favourites. Pre lockdown and post lockdown, they have been imperious, winning even tough matches by wide margins. Their conversion rate in the red zone has been lauded, their collision success is immense.
They score a huge number of tries from short range – including nearly 20 this season from tap penalties – yet have the ability to play with width. Scotland captain Stuart Hogg, signed for occasions such as this, has averaged nigh-on two clean breaks a match this season. And when put under pressure, they have the defensive intensity to sap the spirit of opponents.
However, some of the talk this week bigging up their chances has been wild. Ex-England scrum-half Matt Dawson told the BBC’s RUW podcast that an Exeter defeat would be “one of the greatest upsets in European history”. Has he looked at the Racing 92 team-sheet? They are packed with international class. Leinster were many people’s favourites for the title. They lost to Saracens and Saracens came unstuck against Racing.
And a glance at past finals shows how close the result is likely to be. Only two Heineken Cup finals this century – Leinster v Ulster in 2012 and Toulon v Saracens two years later – have been won by more than two scores.
The Parisians have been disrupted by an outbreak of Covid-19 cases in the build-up, but they returned no positive tests this week. They moved their training base to Corsica to minimise risk. Although light on game time, with a Top 14 match being postponed, they are ready and focused. Their changing room features two giant posters relating to their twin targets – the Top 14 and the Champions Cup. Make no mistake, they’re desperate to win this tournament.
Finn Russell (seven try assists) and Virimi Vakatawa (48 defenders beaten) have set the bar in this season’s competition. Racing have scored a chart-topping seven tries from kick returns.
Related content: Scotland’s battle for No 10 in our November 2020 issue
But it is men like Eddy Ben Arous and Camille Chat, Bernard Le Roux and Antonie Claassen, who will determine whether Racing can fulfil their European dream. The forwards must find a way to resist the relentless power and physicality of the Chiefs.
Racing recall fit-again wing Louis Dupichot in place of Teddy Thomas for the match. Skipper Henry Chavancy comes in for Olivier Klemenczak in midfield and Le Roux starts at lock instead of Donnacha Ryan. Wallaby Kurtley Beale, who recently served a three-match ban for a high tackle, is named on the bench.
Exeter recall England wing Jack Nowell following a foot injury in place of Olly Woodburn, who was injured in any case in last week’s Premiership semi-final against Bath. Ian Whitten gets the nod over Ollie Devoto at 12 and will make his 200th Chiefs appearance across the Premiership and Champions Cup competitions.
Chiefs DoR Rob Baxter said: “We are approaching the match in a very normal way and that is to go there and give it our best. I’m hugely excited. I hate the fact it’s a 4.45pm kick-off! I would have loved it if it had been a 3pm kick-off, or even more if it had been 1pm, but that’s what sport is all about. It should be about challenging yourselves, trying to be a bit better than you have been before. That is what makes it massively exciting for us as a club.”
The two sides provide four of the five players in EPCR’s European Player of the Year shortlist: Hogg and Sam Simmonds for Chiefs, Russell and Vakatawa for Racing. The result, decided by a combination of public vote and a panel of experts, will be announced straight after the match. More than 20,000 votes have already been cast.
Racing 92: Simon Zebo; Louis Dupichot, Virimi Vakatawa, Henry Chavancy (capt), Juan Imhoff; Finn Russell, Teddy Iribaren; Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Georges Henri Colombe, Bernard Le Roux, Dominic Bird, Wenceslas Lauret, Fabien Sanconnie, Antonie Claassen.
How to watch Racing v Exeter from outside your country
If you’re abroad but still want to watch Racing 92 play Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup final, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network.
VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Champions Cup final Racing v Exeter live stream as you would at home.
Our friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN. They recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.
Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from the UK & Ireland
Racing v Exeter, which kicks off at 4.45pm on Saturday, will be shown live on BT Sport 2 and Ultimate in the UK and Ireland. If you don’t have a BT contract but want to watch the match, you can still easily watch it online.
That’s because BT Sport has a contract-free monthly pass that allows you to get instant access to all four of their sport channels for just £25.
If you’re from the UK but are overseas when Racing v Exeter takes place, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN – see the information above.
Channel 4 are also showing Racing v Exeter on free-to-air television in the UK. And Virgin One are doing the same in Ireland.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from France
To watch Racing v Exeter (kick-off 5.45pm) in France, beIN Sports is the place to go as they are the main rights holders. It costs €15 a month to access the coverage or if you commit to six months you get a discount of €12 a month.
Racing v Exeter is also available on free-to-air France Télévisions.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from Europe
Are you in Austria, Germany, Italy or Switzerland? You can watch Racing v Exeter (kick-off 5.45pm) through the live and on-demand streaming service DAZN.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from the USA
If you live in the States, the official broadcaster of Champions Cup games is NBC. They stream matches on NBC Sports Gold so you can watch them anytime and anywhere.
Racing v Exeter will kick off at 11.45am EST and 8.45am on the West Coast.
The NBC Sports Gold Pass for rugby is $79.99. It includes coverage of the Gallagher Premiership, European Champions and Challenge Cups, and Guinness Six Nations.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from Canada
For those in Canada, the live and on-demand streaming service DAZN shows the Champions Cup. You can watch Racing v Exeter at 8.45am on the West Coast.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from Australia
For those in Australia, a subscription to digital rugby network RugbyPass allows you to watch Racing v Exeter at 2.45am (AEST). Subscriptions start from US$4.99 a month.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from New Zealand
Spark Sport, the live and on-demand streaming service, has the rights to show Racing v Exeter in New Zealand. It kicks off at 4.45am.
It costs $24.99 for a monthly subscription and you can also sign up for a seven-day FREE trial.
Racing v Exeter live stream: How to watch from elsewhere
EPCR have launched an OTT service, epcrugby.tv, so you can stream live Champions Cup matches outside of its core broadcast territories (UK & Ireland, France, USA, Malta, Spain, Andorra and Sub-Saharan Africa).
It costs €2.99 to watch today’s Champions Cup final.
We recommend VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
- Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service)
- Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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