Tuesday, January 18, 2011
It was a historic day at the Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday as Toulon beat Munster 32-16, reaching the knock out stages in their first competition, while Munster failed to qualify for the European Cup quarter finals for the first time in 13 years.
The highly anticipated clash lived up to expectations as the home side, backed by their typically pumped up fans, managed to outplay Munster with a brand of rugby that blew away the visitors, not allowing them to ever really get in the game.
Christian Loamanu and Paul Sackey both scored good tries in the first half, while Jonny Wilkinson scored 22 points with some excellent goal kicking, punishing Munster for their indiscretions.
At 29-9 up at half time, there seemed to be no way back for Munster, despite scoring a consolation try through David Wallace late in the game. Yellow cards for Donnacha OCallaghan and Ronan OGara, both for indiscipline, didnt help their cause.
"We have been round the block but Toulon were far superior, packed with great players and full of leaders. They did the simple things well and you can't keep on giving penalties away when Jonny is around," said Paul OConnell.
After years of building things now seem to be coming together for Toulon as this mix and match side, led impeccably by captain Joe Van Niekerk, are now reaching the kind of heights that were all part of the master plan. Stars have come and gone, but right now theyre capable of playing the kind of rugby that on any given day can upset the best on offer.
Wilkinsons form has naturally brought up the usual questions regarding England selection and World Cup prospects, but for now hes totally focused on Toulon.
"Rugby is lived here, it becomes a very special part of you, almost as if it's part of your family. You might have thought that would be the way at every club. But it's not. And that's given me real fulfilment and pleasure. It's made my life quite exceptional," said Wilkinson.
"Of course I'll always give what I can to the England cause. But my place there needs to be merited. And for that to be the case then I have to be doing what I'm doing here because it makes me the person and the player I am. If England fits, it will be," he added.
Fellow Englishman Paul Sackey has also stated that he's happy at Toulon, and plans to play out the next few years there, probably never returning to club rugby in England. Read more about what he said in a recent interview here .
The following highlights are in French, as the game was hosted there and in general, it seems as though some of you enjoy it just as much as English commentary. Please also note that we've still got tickets to give away for games next weekend. Find out more and enter here .