Lundi 05 Mai 2014
Last game of the season and Montpellier were masters of their own destiny, a win and automatic qualification for the TOP 14 semi final play-offs, the only thing standing in their way was Racing Metro, a team that was studded with Internationals and playing excellent winning rugby for the last couple of months.
The last day of the TOP14 all the teams KO. at the same time, 14.45, Montpellier was basking in sunshine but a strong wind was blowing from the North, the Stadium Yves du Manoir was bursting at the seams, a capacity crowd of 14,791 who were in excellent voice willing their heroes onto a direct semi final place, which would be a first in the history of Montpellier Herault Rugby.
Mamuka Gorgodze entered the Stadium on his own to a massive roar by all present; it was his last game in Montpellier if the team achieved the victory this afternoon, after nine years of loyal and excellent service at the club he will be playing for Toulon next season.
The match started at 100 mph, Montpellier looked excellent in attack and it was obvious they were after a landslide victory for their last game of the season.
Racing were the first to show and came just short of the try line, and the first scrum of the game went against the head for Montpellier, the home team started to attack at every occasion, and Hernandez the Racing fullback tried to clear his lines but Wynand Olivier was fast of his marks and charged the kick down a simple pick up and first score to Montpellier, FTD added the extras, + another penalty minutes later but that had been cancelled out by an earlier penalty from Sexton 10-3 to Montpellier.
After a great break from Wynand Olivier, the ball went Alex Tulou and back again which created a massive gap in the Racing defence, and Mr Oliver has try no.2 to his credit, once again FTD added the extras 17-3 to the hosts. There were one or two scary moments for Montpellier but their defence was rock solid and try as they may Racing firstly by Ducalcon then Andreu but all was to no avail and Racing could not penetrate the blue army’s solidarity. FTD added another 2 penalties before half time and at the pause Montpellier were in front by 23-3.
The second half started after the two female teams of Montpellier had paraded their Boucliers as French Champions which they both won last weekend, would there be a third for Montpellier this season???
Racing attacked, but lost the ball and FTD hacked the ball on, Rene Ranger collected and left everybody dead in their tracks, in under the posts FTD again added the extras, this was becoming a stroll in the park for Montpellier. 30-3. Racing again tried another attack this time FTD intercepted and ran the 80mts. to go under the posts he added the extras, this was beginning to look like the “FTD Show” with a little help from his friends. 37-3. Racing did manage to get one try through Sexton he also added the extra 2 points, 37-10.
Nothing was going well for Racing and when Van der Merwe was sent top the cooler for 10 minutes everything started to look glum and hazy for the Racing men, the replacements started to come on for Montpellier as the players were subbed, a standing ovation for each and everyone, the biggest acclaims of the day was for Club Captain Fulgence Ouedraogo as he came on for his first game in nearly 7 months after surgery on his shoulder, he also got a personal salute from the full house!!
The icing on the cake came in the 61st. min. Eric Escande who has replaced Jonathon Pelissie gave a superb pass to Rene (the Taupe) Ranger, a sidestep and a burst of speed he was under the sticks, but this Gentleman who has only been at the club for 6 months did not ground the ball, he gave it to Thomas Combezou who was having his last home appearance as he is heading for Castres next season, a gesture of great esteem and Zou will surely have a magnificent memory that will keep him occupied in years to come with his children and grand children… the extras were added by Eric Escande a parting gift from FTD as he will be wearing the colours of Toulon next season Montpellier 44 Racing 10. That was that the ref blew for time and the stadium erupted the boys had created history a first for Montpellier direction Lille and a semi final place against Clermont or Castres but that’s another story for another day.
All 23 players + the coaches have to be congratulated, but Nico Mass who tore his opponent apart, Thibault Privat and his 35 yrs, Wynand Olivier probably his best game of his season, not forgetting the Mighty Mamuka Gorgodze who played the whole game with his heart on his sleeve, just a few who were magnificent, the others outstanding, but the Gold Medal and MAN of the Match goes to Francois Trinh-Duc, just Pure Magic, if he ever decides to take up music he will be the Chef d’Orchestra holding the baton and leading the charge, where is Philippe Saint Andre when you need him!!!
After the hand shakes with the opposition, The Tour d’Honneur, and the good byes to players leaving for new clubs next season, all the players, coaches, and staff took themselves of to the Bodega to celebrate with their supporters a tradition which never goes down well with the awaiting press ready for their interviews, but today was all about Montpellier Herault Ruby and the guys who have worked hard all season and no one else, patience is a word the press never react to with brilliance!!!