Challenge Cup: Lyon’s triumph in final perfect send-off for Pierre Mignoni says Baptiste Couilloud

David Skippers

Lyon’s 30-12 triumph over Toulon in Friday’s Challenge Cup final in Marseille was a deserved reward for their departing coach Pierre Mignoni.

That was the word from Lyon’s scrum-half, Baptiste Couilloud, after Mignoni was in the uncomfortable situation of coaching against a team whom he represented as a player and served as their backline coach during the time when they won the Champions Cup for three successive years between 2013 and 2015.

Mignoni on his way to Toulon

Adding to that, Mignoni will become Toulon’s director of rugby from next season and he is set to work with the club’s current head coach Franck Azema.

“We all wanted to do our best and win this title before Pierre left,” Couilloud told AFP.

“We’ve put Lyon on the European rugby map!”

Couilloud revealed that Mignoni’s impending exit was not really discussed ahead of the clash with Toulon.

“But yes, you’ve got to be honest and say it’s the end of a cycle,” the scrum-half said.

“He’s given so much to the club. For him and all the players he’s helped improve, we wanted to get him this win.

“We’re very happy with what we’ve done this year,” he added. “Hopefully the best is yet to come.”

It was a memorable victory for Lyon as they dominated their opponents for long periods and Couilloud said: “We were present in all aspects of the game.”

Azema agreed with Couilloud and said Lyon were deserved winners.

“They piled pressure on us and we just weren’t able to counter them. We were systematically late and at the collision we weren’t fierce enough,” he said.

“The notion of territory was essential at the beginning of the match. We managed a try to get back into the match… but one team was better than the other.

“That’s competition. We still have one more match in the Top 14 against Racing next week. We’ll relax, recuperate and go again. It’s a new opportunity given to us.

“When you lose, it’s frustrating. It’s going to go away, otherwise don’t do competitive sport.

“You have to accept it. It’s going to be rough tonight, but we will improve and we have to motivate ourselves once again.”

Toulon captain Charles Ollivon said despite coming into the match as favourites, they did not underestimate Lyon on Friday.

“We just never got into the match,” he explained. “We got pushed back in attack and defence, our kicking game was below par and there was no sector of play where we dominated.”

“We didn’t deserve to win, but we win together and we lose together. As a squad we won’t explode, we’ll stick together.”

READ MORE: Challenge Cup final highlights: Lyon power past Toulon to seal triumph