CARDIFF, WALES – They are a team of over-priced, self-absorbed, get-the-money-while-you-can, fading stars. They were a detriment to the overall good of rugby! That is, of course, according to their many critics and naysayers. But for anyone that loves exceptional rugby – Rugby Union at its best, that is – yesterday’s clinical Heineken Cup display by the Toulon Rugby Football Club vs a game but over-matched Saracens, was something to behold.
All you need to see to know that this Toulon squad, love them or hate them, was indeed a team, was the deft and awe-inspiring exchange(s) between Sir Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau that had the stellar veteran game-callers wondering if their artistry was planned or improvised. Could it possibly have have been the latter? If so, credit the English entry for keeping the score a respectable 23-6. And if it was the former, Bernard Laporte should be feted like no other.
But how’s about the Old Man? Wilkinson finished his last professional game on British turf with a perfect night with the boot. Two penalties, two conversions and a drop goal – just for the Hollywood types.
Sure, Owen Farrell is a damned good player… one you’d kill to have on your squad. But he’s no Jon Wilkinson. Not even close. But nobody is, Owen, so chin up.
Okay, so sure… Toulon has great backs and the legendary #10 leading the way. But that doesn’t make them any less than the bloody mercenaries that are complicit in destroying the game… Wait. Are we confusing them with Racing Metro? Because if you saw the nimble and selfless exchange between Fernandez Lobbe and Juan Smith down the right wing, with a nifty give and give close help the latter score, you’d be daft for seeing them as anything but a tightly woven team.
Still not enough?! Then consider the words of Saracens’ Director of Rugby, Mark McCall:
“I think we came up against an exceptional side today who were on top of their game. It seemed that in the first half they we gave as good as we got, we had a decent amount of field position during that time and they defended superbly well. They had one opportunity, a counter attack if we are honest, and a bit of genius from Matt Giteau and a bounce of the ball and somehow you’re seven points behind and didn’t feel that way.”
Anyway, regardless of your opinion – public or private – watch this match at least twice. It gets better with age… like a good French wine.
Please feel free to comment below.
Side Note: Richard Wigglesworth needs to go by Dick, instead of Richard.