Castres upset Toulon for Top 14 glory
June 1, 2013
Castres celebrate with the Bouclier de Brennus following their triumph at the Stade de France
© Getty Images
Castres claimed their first French title for 20 years with a 19-14 upset of Toulon in the Top 14 finale at the Stade de France on Saturday night.
Scrum-half Rory Kockott grabbed a crucial first half try and kicked eight points to propel Castres to their first French title since 1993. Fly-half Remi Tales added two late drop goals to set the seal on the victory and ensure a winning send-off for coaches Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit who will leave the club to take charge of French rivals Racing Metro next season.
Jonny Wilkinson kicked three penalties for Toulon but missed three others and a conversion as his side came up agonisingly short for the second season in-a-row having been beaten by Toulouse in last year's final. Fullback Delon Armitage grabbed a late try but it was not enough to clinch a rare Heineken Cup-Top 14 double with the big-spending club having clinched European club rugby's top prize two weeks ago.
Wilkinson notched the first points of a largely disappointing half but his opening effort was soon cancelled out by Kockott. The South African-born No.9 edged his side ahead just before the break with a rare moment of ingenuity catching the Toulon defence asleep and he added the conversion to give his side a 10-3 at half-time.
Toulon began the second half brightly and were rewarded with a second Wilkinson penalty and the former England playmaker made it a one-point game just past the hour mark to raise hopes of a first title for his side since 1992.
But Tales' 72nd-minute drop goal gave Castres some precious breathing room and they closed in on a famous triumph when he repeated the feat just four minutes later. Kockott put the result beyond doubt with a 40-metre penalty with the clock running down and Armitage's score proved to be no more than a consolation.
Castres scrum-half Rory Kockott celebrates scoring his crucial first half try © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring