ASM Clermont Auvergne’s bid for a first European-domestic double was thwarted by Toulouse in Saturday’s TOP 14 final – but fly-half Camille Lopez warned after the 24-18 loss: “We’re not going to stop there.”
As in the regular season, the European Rugby Challenge Cup winners finished second best to Toulouse, with the latter’s France wing, Yoann Huget, scoring two tries, the game’s only five-pointers.
“We are very disappointed,” said Lopez, who, along with scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, kicked all Clermont’s points. “We were so close to a perfect season, but we weren’t effective enough and had trouble getting out of our own half. We’re not going to stop there, though.”
Hooker Benjamin Kayser is, however. Saturday’s match was his finale after an illustrious career which included a total of 96 European appearances for Clermont, Stade Français Paris, Leicester Tigers and Castres Olympique.
And the 34-year-old French international is confident Clermont can build on their achievements of this season, the highlight of which was their 36-16 victory over La Rochelle in Newcastle last month. “ASM will be able to lean on an extraordinary generation in the years to come,” he said.
ILS L'ONT FAIT ! Les Stadistes sont CHAMPIONS DE FRANCE pour la 20ème fois de leur histoiiiiiiire ! 🔴⚫️ pic.twitter.com/5oCujVSvhr
— Stade Toulousain (@StadeToulousain) June 15, 2019
For Toulouse, their 20th French title and first since 2012 partially made up for their Heineken Champions Cup disappointment this year, when they bowed out in the semi-finals, after being beaten 30-12 by Leinster Rugby in Dublin in April.
“It was a reward for all the squad for a season where we have given everything and pleased people,” Huget said. “We’ve had some serious injuries, but whichever guys were selected, the team functioned well.”
Centre Sofiane Guitoune added: “Even if we had not won the title, the season would have been incredible. But we couldn’t finish without the Bouclier. It would have been a huge waste to win nothing.”