Toulouse clinched a record-extending 20th French Top 14 title after beating Clermont 24-18 in the final at Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
By securing the Bouclier de Brennus trophy for a 20th time – a first since 2012 – Toulouse underlined their status as the most decorated French, and indeed European, club. With four titles, they also hold the joint-record for most European championship wins.
Clermont were playing in their seventh final in 13 years, but had to settle for the runners-up prize for the fifth time in the same time-frame (they won the title in 2010 and 2017).
All eyes were on Cheslin Kolbe and while the star fullback provided the two try-assists for wing Yoann Huget’s brace, he was well-watched by Clermont, resulting in a quiet individual performance by his standards. Instead, it was Kolbe’s ex-Stormers teammate Rynhardt Elstadt who produced one of the best performances of the final.
Toulouse led their rivals 11-9 after a relatively quiet first half. Flyhalf Thomas Ramos slotted two penalties for Toulouse and scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw knocked over three kicks at goal for Clermont. But it was Huget’s first try that set them apart at the midway mark.
The second half followed the same script, with the kickers trading penalties twice, Huget grabbing another try and the Toulouse defence smothering the Clermont attack.
Trailing by six in the dying stages, Clermont had one last opportunity to overturn the result when they were given a scrum after the final hooter. But they didn’t even get a chance to launch any sort of attack as Toulouse forced them backwards and in the mad scramble to get over the advantage line, there was a handling error. And with the final whistle sounding, the curtain fell on Toulouse’s dream season.
ILS L’ONT FAIT ! Les Stadistes sont CHAMPIONS DE FRANCE pour la 20ème fois de leur histoiiiiiiire ! 🔴⚫️ pic.twitter.com/5oCujVSvhr
— Stade Toulousain (@StadeToulousain) June 15, 2019
Toulouse – Tries: Yoann Huget (2). Conversion: Thomas Ramos. Penalties: Ramos (4).
Clermont – Penalties: Greig Laidlaw (5), Camille Lopez.
Toulouse – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Maxime Médard, 10 Thomas Ramos, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 François Cros, 6 Rynhard Elstadt, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille.
Subs: 16 Guillaume Marchand, 17 Clement Castets, 18 Piula Faasalele, 19 Selevasio Tolofua, 20 Richie Gray, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Maks van Dyk.
Clermont – 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 George Moala, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Arthur Iturria, 5 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Etienne Falgoux.
Subs: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Peceli Yato, 19 Judicael Cancoriet, 20 Charlie Cassang, 21 Tim Nanai-Williams, 22 Apisai Naqalevu, 23 Davit Zirakashvili.