Lundi 06 Mai 2013
That was some last game of the season, packed with excitement, emotion, and some excellent rugby for good measure 11 tries in all. The day started with bright blue sunny skies and a match to celebrate 10 years at the top level, the players who gained promotion from the Pro D2 into the then TOP 16 in 2002/3, played a game on the newly named Stade Eric Bechu to celebrate Montpellier’s access to the elite, of course captained once again by Didier Bes… Then there was the last game of the season against down the road neighbours USAP, Montpellier still had a remote chance of playing at home in the already qualified ¼ final play-offs, a game full of emotion, the retiring Drikus Hancke was given the captaincy for the day and he led the team out accompanied by Julien Tomas who for 18 years has been a loyal and superb servant to the club, befitting there was a full house to honour this superb occasion
The match was played at 100mph, Montpellier needed 5 points and they looked capable to get them right from the very start. The first try a penalty try, was awarded by the ref as the home pack decimated their opposition, Drikus Hancke went on the score board instead of the pack but no one was going to argue about that, another 2 first half tries by Benoit Sicart and Alex Tulou were scored and Montpellier already had their hands on the bonus point they needed for that all important 4th place finish, with Martin Bustos Moyano on form with the boot the scores at the pause were Montpellier 22 USAP 0.
The second half saw Montpellier continue the onslaught on the opposition try line, further tries were added by MBM (2) the young Taleta Tupuala got his very first try in his relatively short TOP 14 career, and the Little Big Man Benoit Paillaugue finished off the affair with a try of his very own side stepping around the visitors with comparative ease. Perpignan did get on the score board after a virgin first half, with tries from Puikala, Taofifenua, Guitoune, and Catala, Battle added one transformation, the final score Montpellier 50 Perpignan 22.
The two biggest cheers of the afternoon were the standing ovations given to Drikus Hancke and Julien Tomas, the former deciding to hang up his boots after serving 8 years with the club when he only came for 8 months as a medical replacement, and Julien is on his way to Castres next season after 18 years with the club, a true and valiant servant to his cause and the rugby club. They are not the only players who will not be present next season, but a massive thank you is be given to all who will not be wearing the colours of Montpellier, without them the club would not be where they are today. Many new faces are ready to take on the combat in the years to come but all the focus and attention is next Saturday afternoon 11th May when once again (3 years on the trot) Montpellier have the perilous task of beating Castres in their home fortress of Pierre Antoine. KO. 14.40.
Fabien Galthie in his post match interview did invite the Laurents of Castres Labit and Travers to play the match at Montpellier, with good seafood restaurants, beaches, pretty girls, and lots of sun, and of course a bigger capacity for the match, is it possible they could not refuse!!!!!!!!
Interview with Alex Tulou:
Steve Whittell: That was a magnificent last home game of the season Alex Tulou...
Alex Tulou: Yes for the final game we wanted to win, but win well we needed the 5 pts for a possible home tie but what Castres did we had no control over, so we got our 5 pts and we got them well. We have been working hard all week and with that slim chance always in the back of our minds we gave it everything.
Steve Whittell: You even got on the score board again!!!
Alex Tulou: Always good to score a try but the forwards have to be credited today, they fought hard throughout the match and we certainly dominated up front, most of the tries came from close quarters so that gives you an idea how well the forwards played.
Steve Whittell: Do you want to know the 1/4 finals?
Alex Tulou: More than likely I guess its Castres away!!!
Steve Whittell: Exactly!!!!
Alex Tulou: What we did today has to be carried over to next week, last year we lost in the ¼’s against Castres so we need to turn that around, we have to go there and take it too them, if we attack from the very first whistle especially up front there is no reason why we can’t have a place in the semis but we can’t go there as tourists and this week I am sure the coaches will get us ready for that combat. We have done well all season and no way can it stop next week no one is ready for a holiday just yet, and it would be great for the guys retiring or leaving, today was very emotional for a couple of players and it would be excellent for them and the club to continue. Nobody needs to worry we will give next week our best shot.
Steve Whittell: Cheers Alex join Drikus and Julien for that Lap of Honour you all deserve.
Drikus Hancke’s last words during his Tour of Honour.
Steve Whittell: Drikus just keep walking, what do you think to this reception you are getting from the supporters.
Drikus Hancke: Unbelievable what an honour I feel so proud with my wife and kids coming around with me it’s just fantastic, I have had 8 wonderful years and have so many people to say thank you too, I only came for 8 months and finished staying 8 yrs but I feel very Montpellierean now, the club, the supporters, players just everybody has been so good to me. Today has been an emotional one and every one has been so kind what a way to finish your career!!!
Steve Whitthell: Whats more you got the first try, well it was your name the speaker announced!!
Drikus Hancke: Not sure about that but if it’s true I will take it I would again just like to thank every one its been a wonderful day and it’s far from over, could be a long night as well.
Steve Whittell: Thank you Drikus for everything you have done for the club, and it has been an honour knowing you, enjoy the rest of your day and your next adventure. You are a Gentleman!!!!!!
Interviews by Steve Whittell ( emotionally)