Monday, June 4, 2012

Top 14 - Semi Finals Wrap

Patricio Albacete advancing for Toulouse
A Toulouse vs Toulon final has been set up following a forgettable weekend of tryless rugby played in the French rugby heartland of Southwestern France. Going against normal policies, both Semi Finals took place at the same venue with Le Stadium in Toulouse hosting Toulouse vs Castres on Saturday and Toulon vs Clermont on Sunday. A lack of tries, however, did not prevent some attacking rugby with the commonality of both matches seemingly being defence as all four teams tackled their hearts out as they fought for field position. Stars  of previous World Cup´s left their mark with the New Zealand´s Chris Masoe playing outstandingly for Castres on Saturday. Sunday´s match was World Cup 2003 winner Jonny Wilkinson kick Toulon into the final. He was joined in the starting lineup by South African, Bakkies Botha who wom the World Cup in 2007 and Matt Giteau who was a part of the Australian side that finished second in 2003. 

Such is the state of the Top 14 that it joins outstanding players from the world over with Tier One teams being represented well but it does not stop there. The likes of Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, Georgia, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Uruguay and Wales were all represented.  Uruguay´ Rodrigo Capó Ortega played his twentieth match of the season in this, his twelfth season for Top 14 rugby at Castres. At the end of the match there was a telling image of the solidarity of South American rugby players with Capó Ortega hugging and talking together with Patricio Albacete who will now play yet another French club final for Toulouse. 

The contribution of the Americas to the global game was also present on Sunday with Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe playing a great match for Toulon, who are into the French Final for the first time since 1992. North America was present in the match with Winnipeg, Manitoba´ outstanding product, Jamie Cudmore taking the field for his sixth Top 14 Semi Final. Despite not making the final, Cudmore will not feature for Canada in his country´ home tests vs Georgia, Italy and the United States of America as he has been playing non-stop since August´ international matches in the lead-up to Rugby World Cup 2011. 

The Top 14 Final will be played at the Stade de France on Saturday. 

Toulouse 24-15 Castres
Secondrower, Patricio Albacete played 80 minutes for Toulouse. Pumas teammate, Nicolás Vergallo watch from the sidelines. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega played the final quarter for Castres.

Toulon 15-12 Clermont
The Pumas captain in waiting, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe played 80 minutes for Toulon. Canada´s Jamie Cudmore started in the secondrow for Clermont.

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