Jonny Wilkinson’s dream of finishing the season with a second trophy to add to the Heineken Cup disappeared when his Toulon side was upset 19-14 by Castres in the Top 14 final.
Toulon lacked creativity, and never found the spark that brought them the Heineken Cup with a 16-15 victory over Clermont Auvergne two weeks ago.
Castres were steered to their first French title in 20 years by their South African scrumhalf Rory Kockott, who scored a try and kicked eight points, while Remi Tales added two late drop goals.
That was all too much for Toulon, for whom Wilkinson kicked nine points and Delon Armitage added a late try.
“It's hard to take in, we did not play the way we wanted,” Wilkinson said of Toulon's performance. “We need to keep the same spirit next year and learn from the lessons from today. We were not good enough to win.”
Wilkinson and Kockott traded penalties early on in an uninspiring first half. The only spark came when Kockott caught Toulon's defence off guard as he scooted between the posts before converting the try himself to give Castres a seven-point lead on the stroke of half-time.
Wilkinson kept Toulon in the match with two more penalties but would have been ruing his misfortune after watching two of his attempts hit the posts.
Tales's 72nd-minute drop goal pushed Castres four points clear and there was more breathing space when he repeated the trick under pressure just minutes later. Kockott put the result beyond doubt with a 40-metre penalty with time almost up.