18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
The game at Lansdowne Road on Saturday is set to be a noisy, colourful affair with tournament organisers ERC handing out 16,000 flags, rattles and pom-poms to fans going into the game.
And to set the scene before the game, the world renowned Red Arrows, courtesy of tournament partners Norton Rose, will fly over Lansdowne Road trailing the colours of the French Tricolour, blue, white and red, in their vapour trails. Lansdowne Road itself has also been given an exciting face-lift for the game and it will provide a colourful backdrop to the pre-match entertainment that will include 40 drummers and the Macnus carnival queens.
'The Heineken Cup final is more than a rugby match, it is a huge occasion that brings together people from all over Europe,' explained Derek McGrath, ERC Chief Executive. 'More than 7,000 visiting fans are expected to pour into Dublin this weekend, providing the city with a huge financial boost, and we want to urge all the Irish fans who are coming to the game to adopt one of the two teams.'
Toulouse have Dublin-born Trevor Brennan in their side, while Perpignan also have an Irish link through their Canadian international Phil Murphy, who's parents were born in Dublin and was educated in Belfast. 'We don't want any neutrals at the game and we hope to encourage everyone to join the French supporters in shouting for either Perpignan or Toulouse.'
Many of the Toulouse fans are arriving on specially chartered flights on Saturday morning, but the Perpignan supporters have arrived early. A group of 18 of them eventually landed in Dublin having travelled from Perpignan to Barcelona by taxi, taken a plane to Rome and then flown from the Italian capital to Dublin.
The City of Dublin has warmly embraced the final and there are flags and banners up and down the banks of the Liffey and lining the route to Lansdowne Road. The Mayor of Dublin, Dermot Lacey, is hosting a reception for the Mayors of Perpignan and Toulouse on Saturday morning and there is a French food fare at Castle Market.
'The Heineken Cup final is now a truly global event and the game will be beamed around the world, providing the two teams and the host City of Dublin with huge exposure,' added McGrath.