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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Toulon defend Heineken Cup title with comfortable final win over Saracens

Toulon joined an elite group of teams to have successfully defended their Heineken Cup title as they beat Saracens 23-6 on a historic occasion at the Millennium Stadium yesterday. Jonny Wilkinson contributed 13 points in his final game on British soil.

Both sides started slowly in what was anything but a free-flowing game, but Toulon broke loose to score two fantastic tries, with former Test stars Matt Giteau and Juan Smith both going over.

Today Wilkinson turns 35 but yesterday rolled back the years, playing a hand in both tries as well as converting them. He was faultless from the tee in what was the penultimate game of his career, and managed to slot a trademark dropgoal too, with his right (wrong) foot.

"It's a hell of a feeling. I can't say enough how proud I am to be a part of that and a part of this team," he said post match. "We've had a hell of a time and our season's got one more game but this is something I'll take with me for ever. There is a lot of relief, a lot of excitement."

The center paring of Mathieu Bastareaud and try scorer Giteau put in another top performance, and in the forwards Craig Burden was everywhere in the first half (more on that to follow), while flanker Smith rolled back the years to remind fans exactly how good a player he is when injury free.

Steffon Armitage claimed Man of the Match, outplaying England number eight Billy Vunipola in most departments, and again putting pressure on national coach Stuart Lancaster, who was in the crowd.

Saracens have another shot at glory next week in the Aviva Premiership Final against Northampton Saints, but will spend a few days trying to work out exactly what went wrong in Cardiff.

With the win Toulon have become just the third club ever to win back-to-back Heineken Cups, following on from English club Leicester in 2001-2002 and Irish powerhouses Leinster in 2011-2012.

The match featured many big tackles and plenty of bruising clashes, so we'll get a clip up of some of those soon, but for now here as the highlights of the game, including the post match celebrations.

Posted at 4:03 pm | 25 comments

Toulon victorious over Clermont in 2013 Heineken Cup Final

Posted in Heineken Cup Knockout Stages

Viewing 25 comments

dave May 25, 2014 6:12 pm

Quite the win wasn't it, Saracens couldn't do anything in Toulon's 22
They were forced to look like the old one dimensional Saracens
Who else saw that Billy Vunipola wouldn't shake wilkinson's hand?
apparently he apologized after through his brothers twitter
I suppose it's easier for a young guys ego to get the better of him

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4LC4TR4Z May 25, 2014 6:17 pm

I think Vuinipola will be the only one who'll regret it.

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stroudos May 25, 2014 8:15 pm

Did he refuse to shake his hand or just not hear/see him? Must have been bloody loud down there.

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dave May 26, 2014 1:37 am

He knew what he was doing, hence most Sarries sticking around to shake hands
Must have been a lonely change room

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Canadian content May 26, 2014 3:36 am

Thought Jonny looked like real class and billy looked like a little spoiled kid

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Vladimir May 25, 2014 6:51 pm

First time, I ever saw Wilkinson overwhelmed with joy and emotion (hence smiling) and nearly crying.

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DanKnapp May 25, 2014 7:07 pm

I remember seeing it live, but I'm still seething at Habana's disgusting dive. In this clip it's at about 4:30.

I'm tired of seeing this guy's antics. He's done this in a few games now, and I think it is absolutely appalling that he's doing this on this stage. As far as I am concerned this is worse than throwing a punch when the adrenalin is flowing. He is purposely trying to deceive the referee into sending a player off, which is just not on.

I would be absolutely delighted to see him being given a card for this sort of bullshit.

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45678 May 25, 2014 7:12 pm

The dive from habana was a little embarrassing

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jimmy23 May 25, 2014 7:14 pm

Hardly a spectacle but a convincing performance from Toulon none the less. Although I wanted Saracens to win, Wilkinson getting the European send off he deserves was the next best thing.

Also if 'exceptional circumstances' are the only thing that will allow players from overseas clubs to join the England squad, surely Steffon Armitage's performance is that 'exceptional circumstance'? He made Billy Vunipola look average in just about every department and proved he's got the big game temperament.

Not all that happy about Billy giving Jonny the cold shoulder when he tried to shake his hand either

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DanKnapp May 25, 2014 9:01 pm

I completely agree about Armitage. I've always felt that we should only select players from English teams, but he is making it incredibly hard to look away much longer. He could possibly be one of the best players to ever be overlooked for a World Cup if this continues...

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cheyanqui May 25, 2014 9:06 pm

Steffon Armitage was a machine.

Now if the RFU (and most other unions for that matter) can just resist the temptation to pick 6'3", 240 lb flanker because they are lineout option.

Armitage showed us there is still a place for a low-centre of graavity backrower -- as long as he's first to the ball.

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Canadian content May 26, 2014 3:38 am

Wood gives them that option does he not?

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Canadian content May 26, 2014 3:39 am

Hell even Robshaw does. Simply can't leave this guy out

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Rugby Lover 10 May 26, 2014 2:59 pm

Neil Back had the same problem back in days innit ? But at the end he was awesome, and world champion in Australia, so it could change for Steffon too.

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jimmy23 May 25, 2014 7:18 pm

Also Habana's dive was ridiculous, was wondering if they were going to start conducting a search for a sniper in the stadium.

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Rugbydump May 25, 2014 7:43 pm

Bryan Habana has just issued an apology for what happened.

"So before anything.. Apologies in every way and to the whole community for happened in the Heineken Cup final yesterday... It was in no way intended with malice or to bring the game into disrepute. Sportsmanship and integrity are key factors to what makes rugby so special and I let myself, the fans, our opponents and the game down. Hopefully it didn't take away from what was a fantastic spectacle and even more so a special victory for @RCTOfficiel."

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stroudos May 25, 2014 8:08 pm

Good on him. Very pleased to hear he recognises his heinous behaviour!

But he does have some previous for milking penalties, so I hope this is now the last of this type of shenanigans from him.

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kanpai May 25, 2014 8:17 pm

The game went as i expected. As soon as Saracens' forwards were dominated, they had no other plans and slowly lose the game. It has been their weakness during all this year (remember Saracens - Toulouse for example), and Toulon knew were to push.
But great game, it was a close one for the first half, and nobody stop playing as soon as they were behind the score (yes, i'm pointing at you Clermont !)

On a side note, as I've said after Saracens - Clermont, Ashton is nowhere to be seen during tough games : he is still far from top level player, he only shines when is team is dominating.

Last thing : Really happy for Wilkinson, he is the kind of player that really represent rugby spirit to me : hard-working, humble, smart... and talented ! I hope i will have the opportunity to see again such a player.

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Ireland West May 25, 2014 9:49 pm

Saracens are a very well drilled side with some very good players and some ordinary players - but no great players. Toulon were cruising for most of the game & Saracens showed no imagination when behind. Ashton's deliberate hit on Giteau 2 mins from the final whistle deserves citing & sanction (despite being handed a written warning by the RFU about his behavior in the English Premiership Semi-Final) shows his character, or lack of it. Habana has, correctly, apologised for his action. But have we heard from Farrell about what he was trying to do ?. Sarries need to rid themselves of this type of player.

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Canadian content May 26, 2014 3:41 am

We'll said about Jonny, agreed about Ashton.

But I have to say that Farrell is starting to offer more with the ball in hand. Unfortunately for sarries, barrit does not.

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dave May 26, 2014 5:15 am

If I was Mr Lancaster I would have Kyle Eastmond ahead of Barritt anyday
it seems every 12 has had a chance when it's mattered in some way other than him

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Colombes May 26, 2014 9:08 am

Great sending-off for wilko.
I never felt Toulon in danger apart their dodgy first 20 minutes.

Even after F-Lobbe yellow card, they didn't panick despite the bad scenario.
Where Clermont stopped to play, Toulon put the pressure.

Hope the new tournament will bring as much good moments as these last 20 years.

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mhardwicke May 26, 2014 9:18 am

As a Sarries fan I find it hard to say this, however, we just looked like someone had come in the night and removed the part of the brain that held the 'how to play rugby' information. No one seemed to know what to do when they got the ball. They just looked stunned to have the ball in the first place. There seemed to be no cohesive plan, no grit and no will to win. It was a pretty poor showing. I have only just got my voice back from shouting and my temperature down from being so angry at a poor poor performance. I am by no means a professional level rugby player (although still playing), but I am confident that I would have delivered more in some positions. On to the premiership final.... with a massive point to prove. I just hope that we turn up!

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DW May 27, 2014 10:18 am

Really great demonstration of how to keep pressure on for 80 minutes and so happy for Wilkinson to end his career in a fitting way.

Was it Strettle who was shouting at the referee and pointing off the field when the Lobbe incident happened? Whoever it was, shouting at the referee and calling for another player to be sent off/ binned has just as much place in rugby as Habana's dive or Ashton shouting "push it". Would like to see this football stuff that's creeping in get punished more

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Shelley June 11, 2014 12:54 pm

Jonny Wilkinson epitomises everything about rugby. Going to Toulon was the best thing he did, his work ethic, professionalism, and natural ability has has enabled him to become the best fly half in the World. We will never again see such dedication and one who is so humble. Congratulations to a wonderful player and to my beloved team Toulon.

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