Montpellier scrum-half Benoît Paillaugue labelled his side’s appearance in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final as “a dream”, after guiding the TOP 14 club to a 19-10 victory at Bath Rugby in last weekend’s semi-final.
The 33-year-old scored 11 of his side’s points from three penalties and a conversion to book a Twickenham date with Leicester Tigers on May 21.
“It’s cool,” he said of the win, which was achieved despite going 7-0 down after just three minutes and then losing prop Enzo Forletta to a yellow card on 56 minutes.
“We worked all week for this. Despite lacking fluency, we showed enormous heart, solidarity and unswerving self-sacrifice. Each time there was a mistake, a team-mate nearby rectified it.
“Despite the yellow card, we tightened things up. Despite our start, we never doubted ourselves. It’s been the team’s strength for some time now after the setbacks we’ve experienced.
“We are a new squad. We need to create our own history and reference points. Twickenham? It’s a dream. But we mustn’t just be spectators at the game. Experience can help us. We’re 80 minutes from huge joy.”
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) May 5, 2021
Head coach Philippe Saint-André expressed his pride in the French club’s squad for achieving their second Challenge Cup final.
“I am above all happy and proud of the players,” he said. “We’ve asked a lot of them, but now they are in the final.
“We missed penalties and received a yellow card, but we showed solidarity, self-sacrifice and incredible courage near our line. We had good vibes from training.
“At half-time, deep down, I was convinced they were going to win. They had taken control. They wanted to reach the final. They deserved it.”