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.
Back in 1996 there were just 12 teams from France, Ireland, Italy, Romania and Wales taking part in a 15-match tournament compared with the 24 teams and 79 matches that now comprise a Heineken Cup tournament. As for Toulouse they will be playing their 115th Heineken Cup match in Round 5 the weekend after next and head coach Guy Noves - who guided them to that first triumph - is still at the helm of the reigning champions.
And at the climax of that first competition Toulouse stopped Cardiff crossing their line in that inaugural final, the Welsh club restricted to six Adrian Davies penalty goals, while Thomas Castaignede and Jerome Cazalbou touched down for the winners with the boots of Castaignede and Christophe Deylaud doing the rest of the damage.
But it was nip and tuck all the way with Castaignede pinpointing the brief rest before extra time as the key moment. "Richard Castel came off the bench and dissected everything that had happened up to that point," he recalled. "And Eric Artiguste came on in the centre and brought with him his famous pep talks in attack but the suspense continued until the last drop goal…"
1st HEINEKEN CUP FINAL - CARDIFF ARMS PARK, 6 JANUARY, 1996
CARDIFF 18 TOULOUSE 21 (AET)
HT: 6-12 Att: 21,800
Cardiff: Mike Rayer; Steve Ford (Nigel Walker 97) Mike Hall, Mark Ring (Jonathan Davies 40), Simon Hill; Adrian Davies, Andy Moore; Andrew Lewis, Jonathan Humphreys, Lyndon Mustoe, John Wakeford, Derwyn Jones, Emyr Lewis, Owain Williams, Hemi Taylor (captain)
Scorer: Pens: A Davies 6
Toulouse: Stephane Ougier; Emile Ntamack (captain), Philippe Carbonneau (Eric Artiguste 93), Thomas Castaignede, David Berty (Ugo Mola 69); Christophe Deylaud, Jerome Cazalbou; Christian Califano, Patrick Soula, Claude Portolan, Hugues Miorin, Franck Belot, Didier Lacroix (Richard Castel 58), Herve Manent, Sylvain Dispagne
Scorers: Tries: T Castaignede, J Cazalbou; Con: C Deylaud; Pens: C Deylaud 2; DG: T Castaignede
Referee: David McHugh (Ireland)