Lyon - Jake White believes his Montpellier
side, fresh from beating Harlequins 26-19 to claim the European Challenge Cup,
must have the confidence to believe they can go on to win the Top 14 title.
Montpellier claimed their first-ever trophy
in Lyon on Friday thanks to a brace of tries from Australian full-back Jesse
Mogg and 16 points from South African fly-half Demetri Catrakilis.
Quins, three-time winners of the Challenge
Cup, kept in the game through three first-half penalties from Nick Evans,
before a late Marland Yarde try set the final up for a tense close.
But Montpellier's forward power shone
through, based around a pack featuring three players who were part of the
Springboks team that won the 2007 World Cup under White.
"It's special," White said of
Montpellier's win, coming five years since millionaire Mohed Altrad took over
as club president to open a healthy recruitment policy based around White and
his South African ties.
"When you start with a team it takes
time for them to develop. When you play against a team like Harlequins, they've
been together for a long time, they have a lot of international players and
have won this competition three times.
"As a coach you have a couple of
teething problems, you get a couple of bangs on the head when you re-group.
"But just watching them tonight and
seeing how they've developed makes me really happy to see that the whole group
really understands what's needed to win something.
"Maybe it's not the Champions Cup, but
next year we will be playing in the Champions Cup and that's a great
measurement because we'll be playing the likes of Saracens, Leinster and
White, with a pointed finger at the Top 14
title, added: "I'm really happy and more proud because this group of
players how understands just how tough it is to win something.
"Winning creates a habit and I know we
have some really tough games coming up. But when you win you get an
understanding of what it's like to win and what is needed to win, well I have
to believe that this team can go on and win something else.
"If I don't believe that then it's
really difficult for them to believe that, too."
Montpellier captain Fulgence Ouedraogo said
the presence of so many foreigners in the team had not been a hindrance.
"This team has been through some tough
times together," the flanker said.
"But we now have players of a
different quality who know each other a little less well. It has taken time,
but we've shown on the pitch that we weren't South Africans or Australians, but
a real team."
Harlequins coach Conor O'Shea bowed out on
a defeat to take over at the head of Italy, but left with few regrets.
"The couple of chances we did have,
that can give you momentum, didn't come our way," the Irishman said,
calling Montpellier "outstanding at times".
"But at 26-9 we had two options,
either to raise the white flag or fight. They fought to the bitter end and for
that I'm proud of them.
"We lost momentum this season for the
second season in a row around the Six Nations and that's something we need to
resolve as a club.
"We've fallen short in the final, but
credit to Montpellier, but they should be hugely proud of what they've achieved
over the last six years I've been with them and will achieve for many years to