Asm Clermont Auvergne
Australian wing Drew Mitchell’s brilliant late try ensured Toulon became the 1st club to win 3 successive Premier European titles as they beat French rivals Clermont 24 / 18 in a thrilling European Rugby Champions Cup final at Twickenham.
Clermont were 11 / 3 up midway through the 1st half, yet turned round at the break with Toulon leading 16 / 11 – after Leigh Halfpenny’s remorseless boot and a converted try by Mathieu Bastareaud saw the champions into the lead.
But Nick Abendanon’s converted try for Clermont just after the hour cut Toulon’s lead to a point only, only for Drew Mitchell to have the last word.
Toulon and Wales fullback Halfpenny punished Clermont’s indiscipline with 4 penalties and also kicked a conversion in a 14-point haul.
Toulon’s Australian star back Matt Giteau admits rivals Clermont are the favourites for the all-French European Champions Cup Final on Saturday, but he adds the 2-time defending champions won’t give up their crown easily.
The 32-year-old said Clermont deserved to be favourites because they were the best side this season – both in Europe and domestically – in what is a rematch of the 2013 Final, which Toulon won.
“Clermont are a wonderful team,” said Giteau, whose form looks set to earn him a recall to the Australian national side after the Australian Rugby Union relaxed its rules on players playing abroad.
“For me, they are even the best team this year,” continued Giteau, who if he stays fit is likely to reach the 100 cap mark later in the year as he was just 8 short when he was surprisingly dropped for the 2011 World Cup and subsequently moved to Toulon.
The battle for the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday won’t just be a European affair, but a truly global occasion.
Between them the 2 finalists, RC Toulon and ASM Clermont Auvergne, boast an amazing 52 international players from 13 different countries.
Between them the 2 32-man squads have 1,838 Test caps.
Leading the way are the back-to-back champions, RC Toulon, with a massive 1,189, including 100-plus cappers in Bryan Habana and Martin Castrogiovanni.
Clermont, who lost to their Top 14 rivals in the 2013 Final in Dublin, have 649.
If the qualification picture for the European Cup quarterfinals is now significantly clearer following last weekend’s Round Five games, the closing series of pool matches in Europe’s premier club tournament retains its customary intrigue.
Vern Cotter is to become Scotland’s next head coach – but at present will not be available until his contract with Clermont Auvergne ends in 2014. Unless an early release is negotiated for the New Zealander, Scott Johnson will remain head coach until next June.
English flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson will seek to add a continental crown to his honours when his Toulon take on French rivals Clermont in the European Cup final on Saturday.
The match at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium might be between two French Top 14 clubs, but on paper it is a truly international clash, with top players from across the globe ready to battle it out for the ultimate honour in northern hemisphere club rugby.
Saracens and Toulon will both have uncharted territory in their sights when they clash in today’s semi-final showdown at Twickenham Stadium – a debut place in a prestigious Heineken Cup final.
Favourites Clermont qualified for their first ever European Cup Final after ousting twice former winners Munster 16-10 in a bruising semifinal at Montpellier on Saturday.
Sunday afternoon’s Heineken Cup sixth round pool clashes brought an end to the Pool phase of the Heineken Cup and the quarter finalists have now been decided.
It is Heineken Cup time and today 3 games were broadcast live on TV in SA.
- Montpellier vs Leinster
- Ulster Rugby vs Asm Clemont Auvergne
- Munster vs Northampton Saints
This was the general discussion thread for these 3 Games.