Montpellier sparkles and offers its first title of champion of France

What had not been said of this final of the Top 14 2022 before its two actors opened the ball! That the show would certainly not enter the dance as the little music played by Castres or Montpellier this season, to be effective, was nonetheless deprived of momentum. That the style of play of the two clubs, quite similar, too often left the defense the baton of conductor, abandoning the solos of artists and other hectic flights.

It must therefore be a question of boredom, after a necessarily padlocked part. In short, the return to a combat rugby allegedly out of fashion since the eventful partitions imposed in recent years by the Toulouse Stadium or La Rochelle. Except that even before the doors close, the Montpellier residents have broken all the locks.

Maximum intensity and accuracy of gestures

Three essays in six short minutes, chained staccato, just to hammer home what no one wanted to see: “We showed that we also knew how to play rugby”, barely underlined the match concluded Philippe Saint-André, the coach of Montpellier and former coach of the France team (from 2011 to 2015). Maximum intensity, control of the races, accuracy of the gestures, everything was condensed there.

A show of strength. Like an inverted sequence from the 2018 final between the same two teams, and which had turned into a nightmare for Montpellier, who were nevertheless then favorites (victory for Castres, 29-13). This time, Castres had the favor of the forecasts, and it was the Tarnais who in turn missed out on their final, at least for a first half during.

Leading 23-3 at the break, Montpellier had told the essentials, satisfied this desire for revenge that the club had taken care not to summon just in case. Unnecessary precaution. If the second half of the debates was dominated by Castres, Montpellier remained camped on its bases, rediscovering its science of barbed wire training. Brilliant to begin with, solid and united to finish, the Montpellier residents have repainted their blurred image in a single evening in recent years.

The strength of a collective

That of a club too rich to be honest since the arrival of billionaire Mohed Altrad as majority shareholder in 2011, driven above all by its foreign stars, as during the gleaming 2018 season when its big South African arms had moved everything during the season before falling on the last step of the final. A trauma for the club, which therefore took four years to recover, losing its luster but gaining a more modest collective of “hungry”, as summarized by Philippe Saint-André, also a craftsman of the recovery since his arrival at the controls he 18 months ago.

The appetite of the hungry was revealed on Friday evening: they devoured Castres as soon as the banquet began. The pride of offering the club the first title in its history was on everyone’s lips after the final whistle. We got spat on, we supposedly had no identity, and that’s what forged the whole groupsaid scrum-half Benoît Paillaugue. I don’t know if all this will be erased, but I think Montpellier will be a little more respected.”. Without a doubt.


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