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.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham