Top 14 champions Racing hungry for more

2016-06-25 15:45
Dan Carter (Getty)

Barcelona - Racing 92's owner, Swiss real estate magnate Jacky Lorenzetti, believes his Parisian giants' first French Top 14 title in 26 years will act as a building block to more silverware.

Friday's thrilling 29-21 defeat of Toulon with a side reduced to 14 men for the last hour has whetted Racing's appetite after a long famine.

"We're going to start thinking about next season straight away, it's going to be hard to do much better than this.

"But we have to start on the path to continuity and I think we have the squad to do it," said Lorenzetti.

Backs coach Laurent Labit echoed the thoughts of the club's president, whose fortune was estimated at half a billion euros ($556 million) in 2014.

"Now that we've conquered (the title) we're hoping it's the beginning of a long road leading to more titles."

Labit added: "Our work now will focus on challenging ourselves again and to start afresh as we know that dealing with the title can be tricky, we saw that last season with Stade Francais."

Lorenzetti, who founded estate agents Foncia, bought Racing 92, then in the French second division, in 2006. He has invested lavishly, attracting a who's who of the sport's top names led by All Blacks superstar Dan Carter.

But Racing owed victory at Barcelona's Nou Camp in a large part to plain old fashioned grit when the final took what looked to be a potentially key twist after Toulon's Leigh Halfpenny and Carter had exchanged early penalties.

With 18 minutes on the clock, Maxime Machenaud was red-carded for spear-tackling Toulon's Australian fly-half Matt Giteau. Halfpenny slotted over the penalty and then another for 9-3.

Man of the match Carter cut the deficit before Toulon grabbed the first try of the final.

Georgian flanker Mamuka Gorgodze burst through one tackle to release winger Josua Tuisova in space.

The Fijian then released the giant Georgian in support who went on to score for a 14-6 lead.

Halfpenny missed the extras before Racing pulled it back to 14-12 at the interval with Johan Goosen and Carter knocking over a penalty apiece.

Long-range marksman Goosen nudged Racing in front for the first time just after the restart before Toulon's night suffered another setback.

Prop Xavier Chiocci was yellow-carded for constant infringements at the breakdown and Racing took full advantage.

Two more penalties from Goosen and Carter stretched the lead to 21-14 before Racing grabbed their only try.

Carter won turnover ball and once it was cleared out, it was fed to winger Joe Rokocoko to smartly chip ahead.

The bounce fell kindly for the 32-year-old former All Black Rokocoko, who collected and sprinted away for the score and a 26-14 lead.

Carter missed the extras while Goosen went wide with another penalty but Racing, with Argentine winger Juan Imhoff impressively filling in as emergency scrum-half, still dominated despite being a man down.

Toulon gave themselves a lifeline with 10 minutes left when French centre Maxime Mermoz went over for a close-range score after the hard yards were made by Bryan Habana with Halfpenny adding the conversion for a 26-21 deficit.

But a weary Racing weathered the storm and a late break up field by impressive 20-year-old replacement hooker Camille Chat eased the pressure as the Parisian giants shattered three-time European champions Toulon's hopes of winning a fourth French crown.

While Racing celebrated, defeat left Toulon deflated.

"We haven't won anything this year. And Toulon must win," said Toulon's outgoing coach Bernard Laporte who now moves on to contest the presidency of the French national federation.

"The top level is first of all about self control," he added.

"When you're a top notch champion you cannot allow a final to slip from your grasp.

"It's in matches like these that you have to assert yourself."

Read more on:    racing 92  |  top 14  |  dan carter  |  rugby


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