Clermont make it 11th time lucky for first title

Click to follow
The Independent Online

After 10 defeats in as many finals stretching back to before the Second World War, Clermont Auvergne tasted glory at long last by defeating the holders Perpignan 19-6 to clinch their first French championship title at the Stade de France on Saturday.

"Bloody hell, it was time. We worked so hard," said the Clermont No 8 Elvis Vermeulen, who was a member of the team that lost the last three finals against Stade Français, Toulouse and Perpignan. The Clermont coach, Vern Cotter, his eyes filled with tears, added: "It was three years of sheer frustration, but every year we tried to come back stronger. Full credit to the players. We are going to have a good night."

The game was a rematch of last year's final, won 22-13 by Perpignan. Clermont scored the only try through the Fiji wing Napolioni Nalaga, who charged over like a prop after a ruck on the Perpignan try-line. The scrum-half Morgan Parra contributed three penalties and a conversion and the full-back Anthony Floch added a drop goal.

Perpignan answered with two penalties scored by the full-back Jérôme Porical, who had scored 14 points in a flawless performance last year but also missed three other penalties.

"We can't complain. We didn't manage to develop our game. Clermont were stronger on the day and they deserve their title," said the Perpignan scrum-half Nicolad Durand.