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Exeter-Racing: the favorites and the crush of our special correspondent


After the victory of the English over the Ile-de-France region in the Champions Cup final, find out what caught the attention of our special correspondent in Bristol.

Special Envoy to Bristol,



Exeter among the greats of Europe

A historic club in the English championship, Exeter did not enter the Premier League until ten years ago.

After winning the Premiership in 2017, the Devon club added a new line to their history by becoming the sixth English club to win the European Cup on Saturday, after Saracens (2016, 2017, 2019), Leicester (2001, 2002), Wasps (2004, 2007), Northampton (2000) and Bath (1998).

The culmination of a linear and controlled progression, Exeter being one of the few - if not the only - English teams to have a balanced budget.

The exact opposite of the Saracens, somewhere.

To get there, the Chiefs have developed a formidable rugby, solid in front and inspired behind.

Able to string together playing times, to sweep the field but also to impose huge sequences with his forwards.

In the semi-final, Toulouse had conceded three tries by the “big ones” of Exeter.

Racing, however warned, also cashed three, either on balloons carried, or on sequences of "pick and go".

Basic, of course, but also spectacular in its execution and dynamism. 



- The notes of Exeter-Racing: a hinge in the Paris region in distress, the Sam Simmonds bulldozer

A test festival in Bristol

Never in 25 years of the European Cup, there had been so many tests entered in a final.

Saturday, at Ashton Gate Stadium, Exeter and Racing delivered a high-end part, punctuated by eight tests!

Between the superb tests of the English forwards and the brilliant inspirations of the three-quarters of Ile-de-France.

A festival.

So far, the record at this stage of the competition was six tries.

It dated from the two coronations of Leinster in 2011 against Northampton (33-22) and 2012 against Ulster (42-14).

Note that Exeter and Racing have entered four each.

Leinster had achieved the feat of strength to register five in 2012 against the Belfast franchise.

Zebo, still decisive

The Irish rear of Racing 92 scored Saturday a double against the Chiefs.

A leading performance for the Irish-Martinican player.

It was indeed his 30th and 31st tries in 60 Champions Cup matches.

The record holder for tests entered with the Munster franchise is the fourth scorer in European Cup history, behind Englishman Chris Ashton (40), Frenchman Vincent Clerc (36) and Irish legend Brian O ' Driscoll (33).

With the arrival in Racing of the Australian Kurtley Beale, Zebo has brilliantly demonstrated that he is much more than a luxury understudy.

The Wallaby, entered in the second period against Exeter, will have competition at the back position. 

When substitutes become supporters

The European Cup final took place behind closed doors.

No audience and therefore no atmosphere?

Not necessarily.

Saturday in Bristol, the atmosphere was ensured by the substitutes of the two teams, in the stands, who gave voice to support their teammates.

On the Racing side, the players who were not in the group had brought foghorns to make as much noise as possible.

Thus, François Trinh-Duc and Teddy Thomas, who were not on the scoresheet, became the first supporters of Racing.

Somehow making a little noise in a totally empty enclosure.


Iribaren, Machenaud and Russell pass by

The hinge of Racing has lived a real nightmare in Bristol.

The scrum-half Teddy Iribaren, hit in the groin the day before the match, had yet been aligned against the Chiefs.

And he was in very big trouble at the start.

Bad choice, lost balls, the one who established himself as the number 1 in the hierarchy of numbers 9 completely missed his match.

His manager Laurent Travers explained that he thought of replacing him in the 25th minute but that would have broken the dynamics of Racing, which was better and coming back to the match.

He nevertheless gave way to the return of the locker room to Maxime Machenaud, who hardly stood out either.

In his defense, two badly negotiated surplus numbers which could have led to tests.

To make matters worse, opener Finn Russell, so brilliant but so unpredictable, also struggled.

Several of his (bad) choices led to English trials.

And why not try the drop of victory at the end of the match?

Laurent Travers - logically - did not want to incriminate anyone: “When the team wins, it's the team.

When the team loses, it's the team.

What made our strength is our team and what will make our strength will be our team. ”



- The spectacular Exeter-Racing final on video

Nigel Owens' strange last ten minutes

Obviously, we don't hit the referee.

That is understood.

Finally in rugby.

However, the end of the match managed by referee Nigel Owens gave rise to many questions.

His decisions have, during the last ten minutes, been difficult to understand.

In the press gallery, our colleagues from 

beIN Sport,

 Rodolphe Pires and Julien Candelon, were doubtful to say the least… Evil spirits say that it is a classic of the Welsh referee: at the end of the match, he chose his winner and all his whistles go in the same direction.

We will not say as much, but, Saturday, difficult to understand some of his choices systematically against Racing. 

The infinite sadness of a closed door

Racing will have known everything.

A Top 14 coronation in Barcelona in front of 98,000 people and a European Cup final in front of ... nobody.

If not a few journalists.

A funny (well not really) atmosphere.

No one around the stadium, nor in the stands.

Usually the European Cup finals are always a party that supporters of all clubs don't want to miss.

Whether their team is there or not, they reserve their ticket for a rugby party for a weekend abroad.

We see, every year, the jerseys of many different teams.

The person.

At least the Racing supporters will not have experienced this cruel defeat on the spot ...

Read also

  • The European dream of Racing 92 is still flying

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2020-10-17

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