Castres Crowned Top14 Champions after Defeating Montpellier in French Final

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Top 14 Rugby
Castres' French prop Daniel Kotze (2nd L) and Castres' South African hooker Jody Jenneker (2nd R) raise the Bouclier de Brennus trophy as they celebrate with supporters after winning the French Top 14 rugby union championship in the city centre of Castres, southern France, on June 3, 2018. (Photo by ERIC CABANIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Castres have become Top14 champions following their 29-13 victory over favourites Montpellier at the Stade de France on Saturday night.

Nearly 80,000 people witnessed Castres, who finished sixth at the end of the regular season, add a fifth title to their collection.

Castres Crowned Top14 Champions

Castres defeated Toulouse (3rd) in the playoff before dispatching Racing (2nd) in the semi final. Their win over their Montpellier is even more impressive given that Montpellier spent 21 of the 26 weeks of the campaign in top spot.

Conversely for the favourites, Montpellier’s Ruan Pienaar who has been outstanding this season failed to have any impact. His kicking was off, missing a penalty early on that he would have knocked over easily enough in training.

The occasion seemed to get to Montpellier. Lacklustre at the ruck where ball was slow, as well as failing to utilise their wingers in the first half where the direct approach failed to pay off, offered no platform in attack.

Backs to the Wall Defence

Castres certainly had something to say about it though. Thomas Combezou and co were outstanding in defence. They disrupted any momentum Montpellier tried to gain and their backs to the wall defence was impenetrable.

Montpellier’s only real period of sustained pressure equated to a penalty try, but it was Castres who made it count with the ball.

Their two tries through Julien Dumora and Steve Mafi were the accumulation of an outstanding final and moreso a remarkable season. No team has ever won the Top14 having finished the regular season as low down in sixth.

Ben Urdapiletta kicking at 100% kept the scoreboard ticking and ultimately took the opportunities as they arose.

A True Underdog Story

Castres’ final win will undoubtedly go down in history as a great underdog story.

It highlights that money doesn’t buy you success, in a league blighted with ever increasing wages and salaries.

Nothing will matter though, as the Castres players continue to celebrate their outstanding league win and enjoy a well deserved break.

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