Laporte ecstatic but won’t look back

Date published: May 2 2015

Toulon boss Bernard Laporte was delighted for his players and the city back home in France after making European history.

Drew Mitchell's match-winning try secured a third straight European title for Toulon in a thrilling final.

Laporte will leave the French club at the end of the season and while naturally delighted for his team, admitted that he felt for Clermont.

"I feel a lot of joy. To see my players so happy, they did their best and everything possible to win a final. It’s never easy to play Clermont, a great side, they’re constantly there or thereabouts," said Laporte.

"I have a lot of respect for that club and the players, especially Aurélien (Rougerie) and Julien (Bonnaire) with France. I’m sad for them, but that’s sport.

"My players did everything they could and gave full happiness to a club and a city, so everybody’s happy."

Toulon's stellar cast once again delivered a top trophy, despite the age of their pack. With many key names bowing out, Laporte praised their enthusiasm and also Mitchell for his star moment.

"We talked about how when you win a game like that you pass on that happiness. Everybody believed in it and the enthusiasm and joy from players who are 35 or 36 like Ali (Williams) and Carl (Hayman) and Chris (Masoe), they’re not too young but they have that excitement.

"I’m really happy for Drew, who didn’t start in the semi-final. For a while this season he wasn’t at his best, but you need players that can make a difference and Drew did that."

Even having achieved something remarkable and unique Laporte stated that the focus would quickly shift to retaining Toulon's Top 14 title.

"We won’t look back. We have to play Castres next Saturday.

"This is history. We’re happy when we win and cry when we lose. Some of the players have made history, no one has won three before and it’s great for the club.  But I’ll never look back.

"The club will be legendary. We didn’t talk about that though in the week, because people won’t necessarily remember all the players but they will remember that Toulon won the Cup three times. Joe (van Niekerk) and Jonny (Wilkinson), I miss them, they were amazing players, and it’s the same with Ali and Bakkies. They’re great men."

Laporte was asked to compare each of Toulon's three title triumphs and revealed that the latest triumph felt the sweetest.

"Often the best one is the last one, but the two others were amazing as well. When I see some of the players who aren’t here anymore, from the first final, we lost two finals the year before that and to win it in only our second year in the top competition was quite amazing.

"But this is new, and now, and probably the strongest feeling."