While La Rochelle captain Romain Sazy admitted that his side were disappointed to lose their first European final last Friday, he revealed that the 36-16 defeat to ASM Clermont Auvergne has only whetted their appetite for more big occasions.

The 32-year-old lock felt the Maritimes did not do themselves justice at Newcastle’s St James’ Park, after failing to convert some gilt-edged scoring opportunities.

“The score was a bit harsh,” he said. “We created chances and we should have finished them off. We weren’t far off them [Clermont]. Unfortunately, the match didn’t go the way we expected. 

“We’re disappointed, but we thank all the fans who travelled over and who went to Marcel Deflandre to watch us on the big screen. We were very well supported. But now we have to move on. I think we have banked a lot of experience [from the final] and we are now longing to relive such moments.”

La Rochelle director of rugby Jon Gibbes agreed with his captain, pointing out: “We had at least two chances in their 22 to score a try, but their defence made the difference. 

“An option was to speed things up, as that is a strong point of ours. We put them under pressure and we again created chances, but we didn’t score enough points.”

Looking back on the build-up to the final and the match itself, Gibbes was able to draw positives from the experience – despite the comprehensive defeat – which he hopes his squad will take on board. 

“Of course, it’s hard to lose a final, but analysing the week and the match, this group have passed a test which is going to develop them,” he said. “That is the positive aspect. 

“It’s a tough time for everyone to go through, but the experience they’ve had is a good thing. We can now target things we need to work on to finish the season really strongly.”