Toulouse will find La Rochelle in the Top 14 final, Friday at the Stade de France, in the same poster as the European Cup final won by Toulouse, after beating Bordeaux-Bègles 24-21, Saturday June 19 in Lille .
The day before, the Rochelais had dominated Racing 92 (16-9). Stade Toulouse, which won the title in 2019, was crowned twenty times French champion while La Rochelle has never been titled.
This final will also be an opportunity for La Rochelle to take revenge after its disappointment in the European Cup against these same Toulouse (22-17), a little less than a month ago. This is the first time that the European Cup and the French Championship have ended with the same two teams in the final.
As in the 2018-2019 season, it is the two best and the two most attractive teams of the regular season that find themselves in the final. This is only the second time that the top two of the regular season have met at this stage of the competition since six teams made the playoffs and the play-offs were established in 2009-10.
If La Rochelle, unfortunate finalist of the European Challenge in 2019 and then of the Champions Cup 2021, is still looking for a first title, the Rouge et Noir are regulars: the Toulouse Stadium is, in fact, the most successful club in France. With twenty titles of champions of France, to which must be added seven lost finals (and five European coronations), the men of Ugo Mola know what it means to win.
The unruly Girondins
Neither the weight of the past nor the UBB could prevent Toulouse from winning its 47e half national and to qualify for its 28e final of the French championship.
For that, they were able to count on a little luck when Antoine Dupont was countered to launch Romain Ntamack towards the test (5e) but also on the regularity of the game at the foot of Thomas Ramos, author of 19 points and the decisive try (67e).
Too undisciplined, the Girondins held the dragee high to their opponents but they ended up giving in, at fourteen, after the exclusion of their Samoan winger Ulupano Seuteni (58e) for an uncontrolled tackle on the opener of the XV of France Romain Ntamack, released on a stretcher.
But it is ultimately a fairly logical conclusion: Toulouse (1er, 81 pts), one of the best attacks of the Top 14 (2e with 767 points, 1er with 92 tries), will face La Rochelle (2e, 78 pts), best defense (458 points conceded, only 41 tries conceded).
The chiefs’ fight will therefore take place at the Stade de France, in less than a week. Toulouse is launched on the road to a double European Championship-Cup only succeeded so far by Toulon in 2014.
La Rochelle wants to write history
But no question of igniting. “For three years, this flamboyant generation has managed to win almost everywhere and against everyone. At one time and under other circumstances, a European Championship title and a first place in the regular season would have meant an ultra-successful season. But not today: the appetite of these guys is not satisfied ”, revealed with relish Mola.
Except that, opposite, the other Stadium, the Rochelais, will not move as a sacrificial victim. The proteges of President Vincent Merling have long teeth. This “Dog team”, in the words of captain and second line Romain Sazy, knows it: “Going to the Stade de France is not an end. There are 80 minutes left, we will give everything ”.
In the wake of its impressive package of mastery and power, La Rochelle wants to write history for its first Top 14 final. With the Blues Grégory Alldritt or Brice Dulin, the Australian ogre William Skelton, the former All Black Victor Vito or the lively Raymond Rhule… The men of Jono Gibbes and Ronan O’Gara have arguments to derail the Toulouse train, just seven years after coming back from Pro D2.
This has not happened this season (Toulouse wins 39-23 at home, 14-11 away and 22-17 in London). Friday, for the fourth opposition between the two best formations of the moment, it will be time to go always higher.