The main statements ahead of the Top 14 final
Here are the main statements of the Toulon and Clermont staff and players ahead of tonight’s Top 14 final between RCT and ASM Clermont Auvergne, at the Stade de France (kick-off time: 8:45 p.m. CET).
Richard Cockerill, RCT manager: “So, we’re not the favourites? Well, that’s a good thing. There are many good players in Toulon, many players who are used to winning the games that matter. So, it’s not a problem if we’re not the favourites. True, Leigh Halfpenny won’t be there, but it’s all right. Anthony Belleau is a good player and he shall be there.”
Mathieu Bastareaud, RCT centre: “It’s details that decide on the outcome of games like these. Now, we know Clermont: it’s a very good team with top-notch players. We have much respect for them. We say it every year, but they’re the reference in French, even European rugby union. As Richard [Cockerill] said, they are the favourites, not us. It’s as if we were tip-toeing into this final, but we have something to play for as well. I can’t tell you much about what we’re going to do on the pitch, but the chances are even between the two sides ahead of the final. We have to give everything we have, no need to think about it. Being disciplined will be crucial, as much as scoring points whenever we have the opportunity, but there’s no miracle recipe. After all, rugby is very simple!”
Duane Vermeulen, RCT captain: “This is going to be quite of a showdown. Thanks to the Top 14, the history of French rugby union is very rich and RCT won it not so long ago. This is going to be a crucial game for the history of both clubs, as both want to leave their mark. We’ll see, but I hope we’ll witness something special.”
Franck Azéma, Clermont manager: “The most important thing is to be back into the final. We’re coming with more confidence – and in better physical shape, to compare our form to the previous years. We have less injured players as well. We’re on an upward slope at the moment, which wasn’t the case two years ago.”
Camille Lopez, Clermont fly-half: “Everyone is talking about our game. Of course, we’re glad to go far into competitions, but it’s all about winning now. We earned the right to play another final. We learnt things from the one we played one month ago and we hope it will bring about good things for this game.”
Damien Chouly, Clermont captain: “We know what to expect, as we know that the Toulon players always deliver at the right time. They proved it again, as they’re into the final. If we want to set up our game, we have to get the ball. So, we’ll have to make our half-backs play as best they can. This is one of our strong points, so we’ll have to work on this.”