Former England fullback Iain Balshaw aims to preserve Biarritz's proud European record and deny fellow World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson a European trophy with Toulon (-3 Match Handicap) in this evening’s Amlin Challenge Cup final. Biarritz, who finished ninth in the Top 14, need to win to qualify for the Heineken Cup for a 13th straight year.
Balshaw, who has 35 caps, said "It is not the Heineken Cup final but it is a huge match for us. It could be a gateway for us to get into the Heineken Cup next season. To miss out on that would be very disappointing. Everyone wants to win a piece of silverware, especially after the season we've had in the Top 14."
Due to missing key players who were on World Cup duty at the start of the season Biarritz (+3 Match Handicap) won just one of their first 10 matches and it left them at the foot of the table. However a run of 6 wins in their last 8 games meant they finished in 9th place albeit outside the Heineken Cup places.
Having lost two Heineken Cup finals - to Munster in Cardiff in 2006 and Toulouse in 2010 - Biarritz (13/10 to win the match) are desperate to put a European trophy in their cabinet and extend their participation in the elite tournament.
However their opponents Toulon (8/13 to win the match) have their own motivation. Two years ago, they too suffered the misery of losing a European final, to Cardiff Blues in front of 49,000 partisan fans in Marseille's Stade Velodrome. They have finished third in the regular Top 14 season and will face Racing Metro in the play-offs, with Toulouse awaiting the winners in the semi-finals.