the favorites and claws of our special correspondent

The Sacred Lou, Baptiste Serin and Toulon overwhelmed. AFP

After LOU’s victory over RCT in the Challenge Cup final, find out what caught the attention of our special correspondent at the Stade Vélodrome.


Lyon unblocks its European meter

By winning Friday against RC Toulon (30-12) in the final of the Challenge Cup, Lyon won its first European title, a first continental coronation which crowns the return to the fore of the Rhone club. Unhappy semi-finalists of the Top 14 in 2018 and 2019 where they had been paralyzed, the Rhodanians this time produced a full and exciting match against the RCT. A totally deserved and flamboyant success. Apart from the titles of champion of France gleaned in Pro D2, it was necessary to go back to the shields of Brennus raised in 1932 and 1933 to find traces of trophies in the Lyon list of winners. The LOU wrote its history this Friday. In the most beautiful way.

Mignoni leaves on a title

After seven years at LOU, Pierre Mignoni will join Rugby Club Toulonnais next season to pair up with Franck Azéma. But he will leave Lyon with the satisfaction of a job well done: he has clearly taken his team to a new level and, icing on the cake, he won a European trophy. Recognized technician, Mignoni will have marked the history of the LOU. And the season is not over, since Baptiste Couilloud and his partners, currently eighth in the Top 14 before receiving La Rochelle on the last day, can still hope to qualify for the finals. It remains to be seen whether this success will galvanize them or push them to relax.

The victory of attacking rugby

The 51,431 people present on Friday at the Stade Vélodrome (a new record for a Challenge Cup final) attended a high quality match. Thanks to sharp and inspired Lyonnais, who never gave up unlike Toulonnais quickly in the hard. A lively meeting, punctuated by superb tries, like the often fiery games that we find in the European Cup. The Toulon supporters, who had made the trip en masse to Marseille, unfortunately had to become disenchanted with the poor performance of their team.


Breathless Toulonnais

Toulon was the team in form at the end of the season. Franck Azéma’s players were indeed gaining momentum as the final sprint approached and had played nine games in their last ten outings. And then, everything came to an abrupt halt at the Stade Vélodrome. Overwhelmed by the rhythm and the attacks from Lyon, the Var residents took on water from all sides. More worryingly, they have multiplied the errors of hand, the bad choices and the approximations. The RCT appeared breathless, completely blunt, out of the way. In their crazy comeback, they left feathers and their lack of rhythm was glaring against LOU. Place now in the Top 14 and a possible qualification: it will be necessary to go to Paris La Défense Arena against Racing 92. The beautiful machine jammed at the worst time. Can she recover? Answer next Sunday in Nanterre.

The whistles against the Lyonnais

In this 100% red and black duel, the supporters of Toulon, only 60 km from Marseille, had made the trip en masse to come and support their protégés. The boiling Varois who did not hesitate to give voice but also to whistle copiously the attempts of shots on goal of the Lyon opener Léo Berdeu. Not terrible, not too much in the rugby spirit… Especially when you know the cathedral silence that can reign in the Anglo-Saxon enclosures during these moments. However, RCT fans quickly became disillusioned with their team’s failed performance. Not a lot of encouragement, and not too many whistles either.

Overzealous Stewards

At the final whistle, some young Lyon supporters let their joy explode and invaded the lawn of the Stade Vélodrome. An enthusiasm quickly showered by the stewards present at the edge of the field. One of the impetuous youngsters was quickly tackled by a member of security and another was taken out manu militari from the lawn, so that the official ceremony could take place. The LOU supporters then copiously whistled this more than muscular intervention towards fans who presented no danger. Gone are the days when lawns were overgrown at the end of matches. That’s a shame…

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