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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Toulon do the double by claiming elusive Top 14 title with win over Castres

Toulon completed the European double on Saturday, beating Castres 18-10 to win the French Top 14 final just eight days after retaining the Heineken Cup. It was a fitting send off for Jonny Wilkinson, who says he's one of the luckiest people alive.

By now you've probably seen the highlights or heard about what happened, but for those that haven't and for the sake of our archives, below is a nice highlights package that shows the key moments from the final, as well as some of the Toulon celebrations post match.

While the Heineken Cup may seem like a bigger achievement, this is the one that all French teams strive for, and it's been over twenty years since Toulon last raised the famous Bouclier de Brennus.

Wilkinson bowed out in style by not only winning two of the most biggest titles on offer, but ended on a personal high by scoring 15 points with the boot. That included a trademark wrong-foot-right-foot drop goal. Delon Armitage kicked the other three points with a long range penalty.

On Monday he tweeted that it's been: 'An amazing honour to have been part of this Toulon squad four the last 5 years, to have seen what I have and to have played with such legends'.

Castres scored the only try of the game through Scottish back Max Evans, but Toulon's might showed and their stars came to the fore up front, allowing Wilkinson to take the points of offer.

Congratulations to all involved and farewell to the likes of Wilkinson, and former Springboks Danie Rossouw and Joe Van Niekerk, who are also retiring from rugby.

Posted by Rugbydump at 1:10 pm | View Comments (10)

Toulon retain Heineken Cup title with win over Saracens

Viewing 10 comments

kanpai June 04, 2014 3:28 pm

I've got to say, i really don't like the way Toulon is building its team, and i fear it will greatly affect the french national team, as other clubs are following the example.

But I have to give credit to the impressive demonstration of strength and calm by Toulon, it seems they could play for a couple more hours at the end of the match. And with class player such as Wilkinson or Giteau, they can always turn around a bad situation (like last week).

Deserved win on the overall season, and great way to end to Wilkinson and the other.

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10stonenumber10 June 04, 2014 9:05 pm

Delon. Bloody. Armitage.

It is easy to kick up a ruckus when you have the meat of the Toulon pack protecting you. Always so unnecessary. Fair play to Steffon for having a go and standing up for his irritating brother, but hitting Richie would be like throwing a squash ball at an oak tree.

Other than that it was a good game. Max Evans looks on better form than he did last time he ran out for Scotland, excuse my ignorance, but do they have an overseas selection policy?

Wilkinson, painfully humble to the end. Those comments would seem a little sugar coated and false from any other player, but he was a true student, master and now legend of the game.

A better send off than BOD had, but the Iron Irishman will see the humour in it. 8 minutes before his body gave out... he has been saying for a while that the mind has always been more willing than the muscles, he would be champing at the bit for another season if he put in yet another Man of the Match performance.

Won't be long before they are on the pundit sofa. I look forwards to it, has to be better than Dewi Morris and Stuart Barnes... + BOD's quip about the tomato shows the concussions haven;t had much effect!

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Reality June 05, 2014 7:31 am

Can't say I agree about Steffon Armitage. I think considering what a knob his brother is, if I was in his situation my logic and want for karmic justice would overcome any sense of brotherly love and I'd leave him to sort out his own mess. He seems like a spoiled brat and having to fight his own fight for once might teach him a valuable lesson.

I agree wholeheartedly about Wilkinson though. Great player, great ambassador for the game, great guy all round. I think maybe he could be a bit too nice to be a good, straight-talking pundit, but time will tell. I suppose he could end up being the France 2 equivalent of Raphael Ibanez. If I was him I'd stay put on the Cote d'Azur.

On a more negative note though, now that he's gone, Toulon have a pretty poor image. They've plenty of normal players that keep their heads down, but then they have Delon Armitage, Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana who all have pretty awful reputations, and have had nice guys like Sonny Bill Williams who was convinced to leave his team in Australia without even informing them and catch a flight to France to play for Toulon, as well as the mercenary reputation that they rightly or wrongly have, as well as an owner that everyone outside of Toulon hates, and now there's no gentleman like Wilkinson to drag the team's reputation out of the gutter. If I was working in the PR department of Toulon I'd be pretty worried.

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4LC4TR4Z June 05, 2014 9:48 am

What a fantastic proof of those famous rugby values.
Such a honest lucidity.
Do you provide for bottles, bolts and baseball bats or do someone shares a stock with your joyfull band of hooligans..?

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DanKnapp June 05, 2014 8:57 pm

Please tell me this was a Google Translate job... I desperately want to believe this makes sense when translated literally into French.

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Oliver June 05, 2014 8:40 am

I have to say Wilkinson has earned the respect of French fans big time. Pretty much everyone hated him before, as it was just horrible to see that wonderful boot in the opposing team..... but he's such a class act! "Un grand monsieur", we would say.

I don't think we'll ever see the Stade de France sing "God save the Queen" for another English player!

Sidenote: Wilkinson also speaks really good French now, but the most hilarious thing is the Rory Kockott interviews, with his mix of South-African/southwestern France accent!

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larry June 07, 2014 1:22 am

It's hard to believe that Wilkinson has been around for such a long time. I have video tapes of various England games when he started his test career in the late 90's and early 2000's, before rugby kit went polyester, when the International Channel and Fox Sports had rugby on Sunday afternoons on the West Coast of the US, before Rupert Murdoch made watching rugby more expensive by putting it on premium channels.

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larry June 07, 2014 1:25 am

I forgot to add this: if Wilkinson wants to give back to rugby, he should take up the whistle. I don't know of too many other ways to give back to the game one has played in for so long in which there really isn't much in the way of being recognized for anything other than the man (or woman) on the pitch controlling the game. I doubt he will, though. Coaching would be another way, and the most likely if he really wants to give back to the game.

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kadova June 07, 2014 9:27 pm

Toulon has a bad reputation only for the French supporters who don't like its president Boudjellal, because he's a big mouth. He said his reason to speak out too much is to attract the medias to himself so they leave the players in peace. Nobody amongst the "actual" rugby supporters is disputing the commitment of the RCT players to the club, whatever their nationality. And before you ask, no i'm not a Toulon supporter. But i do think these supporters who spend their time bashing the club/the players are pretty stupid.

This match was obviously special because of the players who were leaving...and i can confirm Wilkinson is the only English player that we love and for who we're able to sing God save the Queen :o)
He confirmed he's staying at Toulon, he will coach players as an adviser, and he's rumoured to be used by Lancaster as an adviser for young English players too.

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