These two have been the undisputed stars of European rugby this season. So hopes were high for a final to match. Alas, it was not to be. Let us record the result, applaud Toulouse’s record fifth title and La Rochelle’s place among the European elite – and let us move on.
This was the fourth time Toulouse have prevailed in an all-French final. Every one of them has been hard work for those watching, not that the jubilant 10,000 allowed into Twickenham were less than delighted to be there.
A team tends to have to pay their dues in this tournament, so Toulouse’s pedigree carried much weight, even if their last title was 11 years ago. Under the circumstances, a victory for La Rochelle in their first final would have been quite the feat anyway, but their mission became even unlikelier when they were reduced to 14 in the first half for rugby’s latest red card. Sure enough, a match in which they had held an edge drifted away from them in the second half.