By David Williams
There were 43 members and now there are 45 in the club of Welshmen who have won the European Challenge Cup.
Callum Sheedy and Dan Thomas joined the lengthening list as they helped Bristol Bears win the title for the first time in their history.
Their 32-19 win over Toulon in Aix-en-Provence set up a possible English double in Europe with Exeter Chiefs facing Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup final at Ashton Gate on Saturday night.
Cardiff-born Sheedy underlined why he was drafted into the Wales squad for the first time last week as he kicked 22 points on a nerveless night in the south of France.
He hit the mark with all eight of his kicks at goal as he converted both tries and added six penalties.
“It has been a rollercoaster month for me. Last week was massive getting picked for Wales and then losing last weekend against Wasps was a real low – probably one of the lowest points of my career,” said Sheedy.
“So, to be able to get back up for the final was fantastic. We saw that Toulon were full of star-studded names and we knew we had to turn up.
“This was for everyone back home, the 48 man squad. We prepared all season for this and it was for all the Bristolians and for our captain who couldn’t be with us.
“This is one of many we hope, it’s unbelievable. Pat Lam always tells us to have no fear and we really do have no fear.
“Sometimes it looks a bit chaotic and people at home are probably shouting ‘kick it’ but we believe in and trust our process. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but you live by the sword and die by the sword.
“We had no fear tonight and we came out on top.”
Back row man Thomas was drafted into the starting XV when skipper Steve Luatua pulled out of the trip to be with his wife at the birth of their daughter, who arrived 45 minutes before kick-off.
Playing alongside man of the match Ben Earl, he played a key role in a great second half defensive display that allowed Bristol to overturn a 16-10 interval deficit.
Tomas Francis will be hoping to follow suit in Bristol today when he turns out for Exeter Chiefs against Racing 92 in the second European final.