The Toulon Rugby Club will have a second chance. A year after being beaten by Lyon in the final of the Challenge Cup – the little sister of the Champions Cup, the “big” European Cup -, the Toulonnais will play for the title again this season. On Sunday April 30, the red and blacks easily knocked down the Italians of Treviso in front of their Mayol audience (23-0) and will face the Glasgow Warriors in the final on May 19 in Dublin. The day before, the Scots had qualified by winning on the lawn of the Scarlets (35-17).
Toulon and the European Cup is a story that lasts. Even if the era is no longer with flashy names like Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau or Bryan Habana – also honored on the banks of the Rade, mid-April, during the creation of a “Hall of fame” at the American – the troops from Toulon continue to shine on the continental scene. After the treble of their glorious ancestors in the Champions Cup (from 2013 to 2015), the Varois will now try to put their name on the list of winners of the Challenge Cup after four failures in the final (2010, 2012, 2020 and therefore 2022).
On Sunday, the Toulonnais faced an opponent much less accustomed to these European heights, in this case Benetton Rugby Treviso. First Italian club in the last four of a continental competition, it experienced great difficulties against Toulon, and this from the start of the meeting. After five minutes of play, the three-quarter center Duncan Paia’aua was already throwing himself into the in-goal to flatten on a kick from Sergio Parisse, used to this kind of gesture despite his third line position.
The men of Pierre Mignoni and Franck Azéma then seemed to have left for a quiet afternoon at the Mayol stadium, but the weather darkened a few minutes later. On receiving a foot game, the French international Charles Ollivon did not control his tackle on Matteo Minozzi, taking the back too high. Dismissed by the referee after viewing the video (7e), he left his teammates at fourteen for almost the entire game. Taken by his excess of commitment, the “Grand Charles” nevertheless affirmed, in The Team, in the preamble to the meeting, that “Faced with big teams like that, we don’t have our minds elsewhere”.
🏉 #ChallengeCupRugby | Despite a remarkable start to the match and an early try against Treviso (7-0), the RCT sees… https://t.co/TglMk8Hquh
The Var forwards have made the law
Fortunately for him and his club, the margin of the Toulonnais was far too large this Sunday for them to be truly worried by Treviso, despite the numerical inferiority. Ten minutes after Ollivon’s red card, the pillar Beka Giga Gigashvili took care of reassuring an entire stadium by scoring the second and last try in force at the foot of the posts (18e). Also elected man of the match, the Georgian symbolized the big difference in level between the Toulon forwards and their transalpine counterparts.
In sometimes complicated conditions, between sun and rain, the Var then contented themselves with seriously managing their lead, making it grow little by little by the foot and the penalties of their Welsh opener Dan Biggar. “We showed an incredible state of mind in front of our public.declared winger Gabin Villière at the end of the match at the microphone of France 3. We expected a tough match, but we stuck together despite the red card. Now we have to finish the job. »
The only shadow on the table for the Toulonnais, the exit on injury of their center, Waisea. Visibly hit in the arm, the Fijian gave up his place at the hour mark. His absence – just like that of Ollivon, if he is suspended – would be very detrimental for the red and black in the final, scheduled for 19 May at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
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