Saturday, May 28, 2011

Toulouse storm into Top 14 Final

The final game for the Argentina international frontrow duo of hooker Mario Ledesma and tighthead prop Martín Scelzo was not a memorable match as Toulouse powered home in defeating last seasons Top 14 champions, Clermont 29-6 on Friday evening. Ledesma has now finished his six year stay at Clermont and tenth year overall in France and wil retire from all rugby after New Zealand 2011 to take up a coaching post at Stade Français. Martín Scelzo, on the other hand, is leaving the central French club to join Agen on a two year deal. The two tries to nil demolition puts Toulouse into the Top14 Final to be played on June 04 at the Stade de France in Paris. In doing so, Toulouse are favorites to add to its record 17 French championship titles and will face Montpellier who defeated Racing Metro 26-25 in spectacular fashion to qulaify for the final for the first time in the clubs history. 

Toulouse´s 23 point victory in Marseilles was clinical as the South-Western French side lead for the full 80 minutes. French international flyhalf, David Skrela opened the scoring in the 5th mnute with a penalty goal and with Fijian international winger, Rupeni Caucaunibuca scoring a try four minutes latter, Toulouse were looking dangerous and ahead 10-0. Clermont cut the lead to 10-3 after 14 minutes with a long range penalty from fullback Anthony Floch. Skrela and French international scrumhalf, Morgan Parra then exchanged penalties to make the scores 13-6 at half time. Clermont would not score again and Toulouse were in firm control of the match despite repalcement flyhalf Nicolas Bezy missing three penalty attempts. Before replacing Skrela with Bezy, Toulouse had gone 13 points clear with Skrela kicking two penalties early in the second spell. With two minues remaining Bezy finally landed a penalty attempt to put Toulouse well clear with a 22-6 lead before Caucau went over for his second try to give Toulouse a 29-6 win on fulltime.

The Fijian international was part of a star-studded Toulouse side packed with French internationals. A total of nine players in the Toulouse startign lineup are French test players. Caucau was the only non-Frenchman in the backs and was joined n the team by Samoan international tighthead prop Census Johnson, South African loosehead prop, Daan Human and Argentine international secondrower Patricio Albacete who played the full 80 minutes for Toulouse. Clermont also had a star-studded XV with Ledesma and Scelzo being joined in the forwards by Canadian international secondrower Jamie Cudmore and five present or former French internationals. In the backs Clermont had Argentine born Italian international centre Gonzalo Canale starting at inside centre between Australian Brock James and South African Marius Joubert. The match was another example of the growth of rugby as a sport and the extent of how global it indeed is. The need for Rugby World Cup´s to no longer be hosted by the same sides who will have hosted every tournament until Japan finally end this run in 2019. The following tournament should go to a new host with Argentina standing out as an ideal candidate given the ability of the national team, location and facilities. Argentina 2023 should be the goal of the sport of rugby.

Toulouse

15 Cédric Heymans
14 Rupeni Caucaunibuca (Fiji)
13 Yannick Jauzion
12 Clément Poitrenaud
11 Maxime Medard
10 David Skrela
9 Jean-Marc Doussain
8 Louis Picamoles
7 Jean Bouilhou
6 Thierry Dusautoir
5 Patricio Albacete
4 Romain Millo-Chlusky
3 Census Johnston (Samoa)
2 William Servat
1 Daan Human (South Africa)

Clermont

15 Anthony Floch
14 Wesley Fofana
13 Marius Joubert (South Africa)
12 Gonzalo Canale (Italy)
11 Julien Malzieu
10 Brock James (Australia)
9 Morgan Parra
8 Elvis Vermeulen
7 Alexandre Lapandry
6 Julien Bonnaire
5 Thibaut Privat
4 Jamie Cudmore (Canada)
3 Martin Scelzo (Argentina)
2 Mario Ledesma (Argentina)
1 Lionel Faure

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