“Winning the Heineken Cup is right up there with winning the World Cup. In fact, it goes beyond because life should be in the now, not in the past. It’s such a good feeling.” –Jonny Wilkinson
DUBLIN, IRELAND – He’s not the biggest man on the planet – though he’s taller than you’d think. But Sir Jonny Wilkinson’s 5’10” frame (listed) stretched to ten feet tall yesterday, as this still active Rugby Legend added to his amazing legacy by willing Toulon to Heineken Cup glory over a mighty and to-that-point undefeated ASM Clermont Auvergne squad.
Rocky Balboa took more punches than Toulon did yesterday – but those weren’t real. The Cote d’Azur boys absorbed everything Clermont threw at them. They had their backs against the wall continuously, yet somehow managed to go into the half even. On paper, that shouldn’t have been the case. Clermont had 62 per cent territory, almost four times the offloads and forced Toulon into 75 tackles to their 50. This fine piece of writing by Eddie Bulter of The Observer tells the story:
“For the first 15 minutes there was thunder on the ground, a man-made alternative to any storm in the skies. Rain that had been forecast but wisely kept its distance. The tacklers advanced furiously and the ball-carriers were swept back. The body has become the new object in the game that can be picked up and tossed around. During this period of Rollerball, the two little figures of Wilkinson and Morgan Parra remained sufficiently intact to land a penalty each.”
Then came the second half. Two Clermont tries in six minutes seemingly put this astoundingly physical match on the path of a rout. But somehow, some way, Clermont couldn’t get beyond that. Everyone in Rouge et Noir was tackling, led by Man of the Match, Mathieu Bastareaud, who hit everything that moved.
If you haven’t seen this match, watch it. It will have you on the edge of your seat, waiting for Clermont to once and for all establish itself as the far-superior side and cheering for both sides’ heroic sacrificing of their bodies for team and teammate. And don’t think for a second that this “all-French final” was all-French. These teams are comprised of the best players on the planet – it’s like an international rugby All-Star game. Just ask Aussie Brock James, Welshman Lee Byrne, ex All-Black Sitiveni Sivivatu or Argentinian Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe. Indeed, two Englishmen, Wilko and Delon Armitage accounted for the all of the Toulon points.
Congrats to Toulon and the Rugby Legend, Sir Jonny Wilkinson… we bet 2 bits that he and his Toulon boys will beat Toulouse for the Top 14 Championship this weekend – and another 2 bits that he’s on the British & Irish Lions within two weeks after that.
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @JamieLoyd and @Ebstide52, respectively.