The main reactions after the Top 14 final
Here are the main reactions of the Toulon and Clermont staff and players after the Top 14 final at the Stade de France, which Clermont won 22-16.
Richard Cockerill, RCT manager: “Congratulations to Clermont. I have no regrets, it was a very close game, we played for victory until the end and we were not far from snatching the win. We knew Clermont would make a strong start, they scored a beautiful try, but I knew we would bounce back. We could have won, but it just wasn’t our day. Only details decided on the outcome of the game, like the two missed penalties in the early second half or the forward pass near the Clermont in-goal area. I’m very proud of the efforts made by the players. One usually says one gets his just deserts and, tonight, Clermont deserved the win.”
Guilhem Guirado, RCT hooker: “It’s hard, you know. I heard people say Clermont was playing better, but tonight, we proved many people wrong. And, apart from that 80-metre try that did us considerable harm, we did put them to the test. It’s hard for the club, but we’ll have to get over this, as Toulon are not used to ending up empty-handed two years in a row. It’s a difficult experience. We lacked realism and many details played against us tonight. Last year, we had thrown the game away; tonight, we played a great game, but we lacked realism. It’s hard for some of the club’s legends to leave on a defeat, but those are the rules of rugby.”
Anthony Belleau, RCT fly-half: “We could have won the game in the second half. I didn’t kick the ball ideally each time I hit the post. I wasn’t feeling the pressure of the game, I had done good training sessions – I also practise kicking, now – and I hope the next time I hit the post, the ball goes in. We’ll learn the lesson in the future.”
Franck Azéma, Clermont manager: “The game reflects a whole season. It lasts eleven months, which is long and hard. We could have cracked at the last second, but we didn’t. It feels good to see happy people tonight, to see that the club and the whole Auvergne region have been rewarded… Now, we can write a new chapter. When you’re capable of winning two titles in seven years, it means the quality is there. And when you play so many finals… I think we’ve now got rid of our reputation as ‘losers’ and that things have gone back to normal. To be honest, it’s a real pleasure to see the club’s staff happy. They’ve been rewarded for their everyday investment.”
Benjamin Kayser, Clermont hooker: “Even though we had good control of the game in the first half, it proved to be a hard one until the end. We faced a great Toulon team: they have much experience and knew how to tighten up the game to be more efficient at the right moment – after we squandered two or three opportunities to score a try, to be precise. I was prepared for this, as I strongly believed we could win – and yet, I still can’t realise how happy we are. It’s a crazy thing! The last penalty, played five metres from our in-goal area, was a tense moment. This was a solid Toulon team. When you’re up against players like Tao, Vermeulen, Nonu and Tuisova, it feels like banging your head against a row of tanks! In the end, you’re totally worn out. We were playing on the edge and many of our players wee knackered.”
Sources: post-game press conference, Canal Plus, rugbyrama.fr