The joys of having a brother who doesn’t live too far from Twickenham meant I had an easy journey back the morning after the Challenge Cup Final.
I’d bought my Golden Ticket as soon as they were on offer, to ensure I could be at the final no matter what. As it turned out I was lucky to be given full media accreditation for the game.
I’ve been to Twickenham before with media access, but that’s see me at on the gantry in front of the middle tier in the West Stand. That has meant one of the best views in the house.
For the Champions Cup Final I was given access to the actual press area in the East Stand, with such in the Will Carling room in the North Stand beforehand.
I arrived in plenty of time to pick up my pass, and lodge my ticket with the collections people for my good friend Tracey to pick up. I made my way to the press/media area and went to see where I’d be sitting, to my delight I was virtually on the half way line! Another wonderful seat!
I had a while to go before lunch was served so sat and started my blog, I knew a couple of the others in the room so exchanged a few words before heading down for food.
If I’m completely honest I found a few of the rugby writers a little unfriendly – they clearly all knew each other; I ended up sitting on my own on a big table, and was then joined by 4 very pleasant Frenchmen, who didn’t speak English.
Stephen Jones of the Sunday Times was at least kind enough to ask me to join the table and was very friendly, as was Hugh Godwin of The Independent who I sat next to during the game.
A very tasty shepherds pie, followed by a lemon meringue pie and it was time to walk back to the ‘press box’ – again I found friendlier faces there, with tie to spare before the game I was able to finish Event 47 which was very handy!
Game time approached and as we had 2 French teams on show we were treated to 2 sets of very impressive sets of Can-Can girls – from a dancing perspective in my eyes – I’m sure from a different perspective as far as the men in the crowd were concerned.
I am going to make an awful confession here, based on the photo above – Clermont have one of my favourite players in purely aesthetic terms – there, I admit it! Wesley Fofana just had to have his own photo.
I’ve written a full match report at InTheLoose.com – http://intheloose.com/2015/05/03/asm-clermont-auvergne-v-rc-toulon/ So won’t linger on match facts too much here.
I’d say that the Clermont fans won the singing, they’d travelled in numbers and made their voices heard.
It was pretty amazing to hear Swing Low Sweet Chariot sung at one point – I’m sure the whole crowd was singing it.
I’d been a bit disappointed when the finalists were known t think I’d be watching to ‘French’ teams’ However an incredible number of world class players took to the pitch.
We were treated to a great game of rugby, however I would love to count up just how many knock ons happened! It did make for a bit of stop, start at times.
There was a star try from both sides, with Nick Abendanon showing his skill and pace to score for Clermont, he seemed to burst from nowhere.
Drew Mitchell scored the spectacular try for Toulon after a superbly timed pass from Sebastien Tillous-Borde, he ran through 6 men – one of which really should have tackled him! But his footwork, strength and determination were immense!
That try was to seal the deal for Toulon, the score finished on ASM Clermont Auvergne 18 RCT Toulon 24.
The Toulon fans found their voices once their team had the Cup won – they were very clearly delighted!
Poor Clermont remain the nearly men, in all honesty they probably made too many errors to win, a penalty kick missing touch, a ball thrown away in petulance, a poor kick out from defence.
I was able to buy myself a ticket for the Top 14 final in Paris in mid June – I believe may be watching the same teams – I really hope the result reverses if that is the case. Clermont play an exciting brand of rugby, they deserve some silverware.
The Toulon players were thrilled to a man, they may be at the club for the big bucks but they clearly care and seem to have a great team spirit.
A funny moment as the cup was being lifted, ribbons were sent into the air – they were blue and yellow! Clermont colours all but…. as the saying goes… You had one job!
Rather than go to the press conference I linked up with Tracey who was actually just above me – great that she had the excellent view too!
We met another Saracens friend – Nigel and his daughter Orla then headed into the hotel in the stadium for a drink before heading home. A decent meal in Ask before Tracey and I headed to her house right through the middle of London. Note to self next time? Do what the Satnav says – it knows best!
A wonderful day all round it was a very late finish by the time we’d sat in the traffic the satnav was trying to the Satnav was trying to get us to avoid.
No facts and figures as it wasn’t that kind of day for me – although the best moment of the game was the run by Drew Mitchell – oh and a huge tackle he put in! The nicest as is so after the way, time with friends.