Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque earned a spot in the Amlin Challenge Cup final April 28 with a 19-0 victory over Brive. The final will be played in the Twickenham Stoop May 18. Brive was held to zero thanks to stout Biarritz Olympique defense that kept their opponents fairly silent through the first half.
Brive were more active in the second half, but were not able to bring anything together enough to score. Dmitri Yachvilli led scoring with a 14 point haul, and Damien Traille crossed over for a try. The wet and windy conditions helped to dictate the pace of the match. It was 28 minutes in when Biarritz got the first points on a try. The game was 13-0 at the half.
Biarritz will meet Toulon in the final, after that squad qualified the day before.
While Biarritz booked their spot in the final with a dominating victory which held the other side to zero, the first semi wasn't decided until the last moment. Toulon won by virtue of a thrilling performance from a legend, and answered one man's desires to play the final on home soil.
Toulon over Stade
Jonny Wilkinson took a 27 point haul from the semifinal April 27 in Toulon's 32-29 win over Stade Francais. He got the win with a last-minute long drop goal to break a 29-29 deadlock. His haul came from seven penalties and two drop goals, the last being the most crucial.
Toulon were down 19-11 at the half, but were able to fight back to bring the score level before Wilkinson was able to get clear. With Stade down a man after winger Julian Arias had been sin-binned, the pitch opened up a little for Wilkinson to get another shot.
"I thought if I missed that drop goal, I might not go back in the dressing room as the lads had worked so hard to give me the opportunity," Wilkinson said.
Dream final for Wilkinson
The England fly-half had made it clear he wanted to play in the Challenge Cup final on home soil.
"It would be great to go back to England, where my home is, and play in a major final," Wilkinson said before the match against Stade.
"The Stoop is a great venue right next door to a very special place where I have played a lot of rugby."
Wilkinson is search for better fortunes on the club level. His great success with England have been countered by 15 years of frustration in European club rugby. The most bitter disappointment came two years ago, when Wilkinson left the pitch with an injury and watched his squad go down in defeat to Cardiff Blues in the same tourney, one week after losing in the semis of the French Championship.
As a fan of Wilkinson if not so much that of Toulon, I very much hope his squad gets the silverware in London.
Jeff Musall became a fan of rugby thanks to some friends living in South Africa. His favorite squad are the Springboks, but he follows all the international competitions.
- Sports & Recreation
- Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque
- Jonny Wilkinson
- Stade Francais