Rugby

White revolution sparks Montpellier

2016-05-14 08:32
Jake White (AP)

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 Munster, Toulon..."

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 come."

Read more on:    jake white  |  rugby
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