The main reactions after Clermont vs Toulon
Here are the main reactions of the Toulon and Clermont staff and players, published online or in various newspapers, after the Champions Cup quarter-final RCT lost 29-9 at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
Mike Ford, RCT manager: “First, congratulations to the Clermont team. It’s hard for us to suffer such a defeat, but Clermont put the pressure on us in the second half and we couldn’t play outside our 22-metre area. It’s a pity not to have found a solution to this game, as things were pretty even in the first half. But afterwards, we lacked accuracy in our throw-ins and our kicking. The European Cup is over for us, but I wanted to congratulate the players tonight for their efforts and their fighting spirit. We have to improve our game plan and find a way to play outside our 22-metre area, in order to put the pressure on the other team instead of being dominated. We’re going to work on it this week.”
Guilhem Guirado, RCT hooker: “Clermont clearly deserved victory. I think a forward pass occurred before Nakaitici’s first try, but we couldn’t have snatched the win anyway. Clermont overwhelmed us in our own half. We could never play efficiently and cleanly outside our 22-metre area, contrary to them. They proved to be stronger, notably in the rucks, where they were less numerous. That is important in top-level rugby union, all the more so as those moves are often repeated. We were hanging on in the first half, when we defended for the most part. There were opportunities for us to score, but we didn’t take them and we must have moved into their own 22-metre area just once or twice. Once again, we’ve seen that playing a quarter-final at home remains capital. When Toulon was crowned, the path was all clear. There are positive things to keep from this game, but we just have to play for one competition now. We’ll give it everything we have.”
Eric Escande, RCT scrum-half: “That’s a real shame. All the more so that, with a few successful kicks, we could have been ahead at half-time. It’s irritating we let it go in the second half, even though we spent much time defending in the first one. We let the game slip away from our hands, but the final score doesn’t really reflect the way it unfolded. The Clermont team knew how to break the deadlock and used the right tactics to beat us. They had little to do, but they did it well. Now, we’ll have to learn the lesson in view of the forthcoming games. We’ll see whether this defeat eventually turns out to be a blessing in disguise. But, for the time being, this defeat is hard to take.”
Franck Azéma, Clermont head coach: “We knew Toulon would be a tough team to play against. This was an important game – particularly against them. When the final whistle was blown, we were happy, but not over-demonstrative. We still have ambitions in this competition. We chipped away at them in the first half and this paid off. We never panicked and we scored when necessary, even if the weather conditions were difficult.”
Camille Lopez, Clermont fly-half: “We fought for this victory. Everything didn’t work according to plan, but the job is done, even if we don’t intend to stop there. There is still a mountain to climb against Leinster to have a shot at the European title. The Toulon players didn’t yield anything and they were quite aggressive, notably in the rucks. So, we had difficulties in getting the ball out. But still, we had many opportunities to score. We were calm and collected, our kicking enabled us to open up a gap and, then, we scored two tries that liberated us. The forwards did a tremendous job, they wore the Toulon players out, which created gaps for us to score. Now, we face Leinster in the semi-finals. It’s a tough team to play against: they have experienced players and a solid game plan, actually similar to the Ireland team’s.”
Morgan Parra, Clermont scrum-half: “The game was not very enjoyable to watch, it was rather a struggle. We knew we could open up a comfortable gap towards the end if we kept the ball and put Toulon under pressure. It worked, even if Toulon didn’t make things easy for us. In addition to this, we couldn’t perfectly set up our game plan because of the weather conditions. We faced tough and intense opposition and the two teams were head to head at half-time. All we had to do was remain calm and not crack under pressure. We succeeded in creating opportunities and were seldom driven back to our 22-metre area.”
Sources: Var-Matin, lequipe.fr, AFP.