the favorites and claws of our special correspondent


After the victory of the Toulonnais in the final of the Challenge Cup against the…

the favorites and claws of our special correspondent

the favorites and claws of our special correspondent

After the victory of the Toulonnais in the final of the Challenge Cup against the Warriors (36-19), find out what caught the attention of our special correspondent at the Aviva Stadium.

Special Envoy to Dublin


Toulon ends its curse

The trophy cabinet is therefore complete. By winning this Friday against Glasgow, the Rugby Club Toulonnais won the Challenge Cup, the last major title it lacked. The Varois now have four Brennus (1931, 1987, 1992, 2014), three Champions Cup (2013, 2014, 2015) and therefore the Challenge Cup. Above all, they put an end to the curse at Aviva Stadium that was chasing them in the small European Cup, after four defeats in 2010, 2012, 2020 and 2022. Against the Warriors, they did not tremble in a match which they have completely mastered. Forget the recent torments in the Top 14. But now place in the championship where the future is much darker: the RCT will need a small miracle to qualify for the final stages. The Varois should win with the offensive bonus against Bordeaux-Bègles and, at the same time, Bayonne must win with the bonus in Lyon, without the latter taking a point. Impossible mission ?

Sergio Parisse, high cl

The Scottish supporters, frustrated by the part of their team, were not mistaken. When Sergio Parisse left the lawn of the Aviva Stadium in the 70th minute, they rose en me and applauded the totemic Italian number 8 for a long time. At 39, the third line of the RCT still delivered a full match and even scored, in force, the second try of his team. This Friday, he was playing his sixth Challenge Cup final (a record) and he lifted it for the second time after that won in 2017 with Stade Français Paris. The only downside this week: when he wanted to make a last last stand with the Nazionale, coach Kieran Crowley did not call him to the list of 47 players to prepare for the World Cup. Too bad in view of his incredible career.

Proper preparation of the RCT

Everything came together perfectly. The meeting started ideally for the Varois, with two entry tries. And the grip of the Toulonnais never relaxed in this one-sided final. Returning from the locker room, Parisse and his teammates accelerated again and scored three new tries by Wainiqolo, Nayacalevu and West. More solid in conquest and in rucks, the Var club responded present in this match. Calm, efficient and determined. The reason ? The Var staff had decided to come early to the Irish capital to prepare for this final. A preparation “with a lot of derision and relaxation. The goal is to have a good time together before the final. explained co-manager Pierre Mignoni. A paid method. The Toulonnais appeared serene, they never showed feverishness. Total control. Ollivon was waiting “a party”, it was.

Claw strokes

Serin, the big tile

A real mahout! Against the Scottish Warriors, Baptiste Serin was in all the right moves at the start of the match. Lively and precise in his distribution of the game, the international scrum-half immediately stood out, scoring two superb tries. On the first, he taps follow for himself behind a ruck, collects the swell and resists Smith’s return to score. On the second, after a good breakthrough from Ollivon and an excellent stint from Waisea, he went flush behind a regroup to score a pure try of 9. With the early exit of Biggar, he had also ensured in the role of scorer of the Var. But, on the last action of the first half, he injured his ankle, leaving the lawn carried by members of the staff and returning from the locker room with crutches. The big tile for a player who was particularly fit at the end of the season. World Cup hopes over? A blow certainly for the scrum half who has not been called up since March 26, 2021 and a match of the Tournament lost 23-27 against… Scotland.

Glasgow drinks the water

For its first continental final, the province based in Glasgow did not exist this Friday evening. From the start, the Scots were taken by the power of the Toulonnais, formidable in the ruck wars, and they were only occasionally able to put their game down. Renowned for their lively and alert game, the Warriors systematically came up against the Var defense well in place and totally hermetic. Crucified from the outset by the trials of Serin and Parisse, they never managed to reverse the trend and cast doubt on an applied and sure RCT of its strengths. Until then, Glasgow had played only three quarter-finals of the Champions Cup, for three defeats against the English Saracens. This defeat in the final in the “small” European Cup will leave them with a taste of unfinished business as they never seemed able to compete with Toulon, despite a (sterile) start in the second half. Disappointing for a team that makes up the vast majority of XV du Thistle (11 of the 15 holders this Friday).

A dull then unbridled finish

At first, the show and the intensity were not there, this Friday evening, at the Aviva Stadium. Without forcing their talent, the Varois mastered the debates, without inflaming the public (not so sparse as that) who came to Dublin. On a few rare occasions, Scottish supporters tried to raise their voices, but they quickly realized that their proteges were in for a day without. Steyn’s test woke up Warriors fans who believed in an improbable awakening (55th). An enthusiasm immediately showered by the fourth Toulon try scored by Wainiqolo (58th). Admittedly, there were tries in this final, but it was all very disjointed and a little crazy. The RCT made the job in this meeting. “A final, it is not played, it is won”, players often repeat. This was the case for the players of President Bernard Lamaître, who finally won a title. This trophy also makes it possible, and very symbolically, to save the club’s season. But, on the rugby side, we hear a lot more of the clash at the top of Saturday, in the same place, between Leinster and Stade Rochelais.

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