Ones to Watch: Summer’s World of Sport

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Summer term can be a daunting time for the student body of Britain. Exam finals are approaching, and for third years there is the prospect of entering the big, scary ‘real world’. It is understandable, then, that third term is often regarded to be the most stressful of the year.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom.

The British summer may be slow in its arrival and modest in its appearance, but there are other perks it brings to the frame. Between revision sessions, hours spent in beer-infused picnics, and wild end of term parties, you might find time to partake in an hour or two of watching some world-class sport. Like the academic year, the sports calendar tends to climax around about May to June, and for anyone wondering how to spend your new-found free time after exams, here are a few examples of what’s on offer this coming summer:

The Heineken Cup Final
The Heineken Cup is arguably the most sought after trophy in club rugby. This coveted piece of silverware has been lifted by numerous legends of the modern game, including ex England great’s Martin Johnson and Laurence Dallaglio, and more recently, Irish wonderman Brian O’Driscoll. This year, the final will take place in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. By the time of reading, the semi-finalists of Saracens (England), Toulon (France), Clermont (France) and Munster (Ireland) will have been narrowed down to two, the favourites expected to be Toulon and Clermont, setting up an all French final. The standard of Heineken Cup knockout rugby is fantastic, and Jonny Wilkinson’s star studded Toulon side will be a treat to watch should they reach the final.
Date: 18th May 2013

The Champions League Finals
The 58th European Championship has never been short of drama, and the finals will undoubtedly be a showcase of world-class football. Even the most casual of football fans cannot fail to appreciate the spectacle of the event; and to top it all, this year’s final is being held at the home of English football, Wembley. Unfortunately, no English team has managed to make the final stage of the tournament. However, with the talents of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund on display, neutral fans will not go wanting in the talent department. SkyBet have failed to discern a favourite, with both Real Madrid and Barcelona coming in at 2/1, and most neutral fans would relish a Champion League final edition of El Classico.
Semi Final Dates: 23rd, 24th April & 20th April, 1st May Final Date: 25th May 2013

The British and Irish Lions Tour
For Rugby Union fans, the Lions Tour is second only to the World Cup in terms of passion, spectacle, and importance. The British and Irish Lions is one of the oldest traditions in sport: once every four years, the best players comprising of the four home nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland), travel to one of the three superpowers of rugby in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa. This time around, the Lions will travel to Australia, in search of a first series victory since 1997. The tour will consist of three test matches against Robbie Dean’s Wallabies outfit, as well as warm up tests against the Barbarians and various Australian Super Rugby sides. This is being billed as the Lions best chance of a victory in recent memory. At the time of their tours to New Zealand (2005) and South Africa (2009), their opponents were ranked world number one. As it stands, Australia have proved to be tough, but not unbeatable. It is certainly set to be the highlight of this year’s rugby calendar.
Date: Saturday 1st June – Saturday 6th July

The Investec Ashes Series
Not many competitions are steeped in history like that of the Ashes. The biennial tournament represents one of the most hotly contested rivalries in sporting history, England and Australia. Five Test matches, consisting of two innings each, will be played out in various cricketing stadia across England. In the past, Australia dominated this tournament. However, in recent years England have not only gained back some pride for English cricket, but have seen them become a dominant force in the world game. England will be looking to retain the Ashes for the third time, after humiliating the Australians on their home turf back in 2010-11; in which the Fourth Test saw England win by a phenomenal innings and 157 runs, and the Fifth Test saw them win by an innings and 83 runs. This also saw them make 644 runs in their first innings, the highest England batting total for an innings since 1938. This year promises to be a closer affair, with England going through a patchy season to say the least. This is the highlight of any English or Australian cricket fan’s calendar.
Date: July 10th – August 25th 2013

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