The front page headline of this morning’s Midi Olympique reads ‘The ambassadors’, referring to the fact that, after reaching their fifth final in three years, Toulon are the now the leading lights of French rugby.
Simon Zebo, Conor Murray and Paul O’Connell feature in the rugby newspaper’s team of the week, although Mathieu Bastareaud wins the Oscar de la semaine for his superb display in midfield.
On page seven, there is a major reference to Munster’s decision not to kick for goal with their late penalty, as Simon Valzer writes:
“An astonishing decision, but rational in view of the effectiveness of the Munster line-out, especially with their ability to produce formidable mauls, like we saw just before Zebo’s try.”
The round-up of the most important incidents in the game mentions the “surprising indiscipline” of Munster’s defence, which allowed Jonny Wilkinson to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Pierre-Laurent Gou’s main article across pages six and seven examines the “revolution” of Toulon’s playing style in phase play when attacking, pointing out how the Top 14 side have shifted away from their territorial, kicking-based game of old.
The front page of the sports daily makes a Star Wars-related reference to Toulon in saying that ‘THE FORCE is in them’ after they “tamed the Irish fury of Munster” thanks to 21 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson.
Flicking to pages 10 and 11, the newspaper dedicates two pages to coverage of yesterday’s game. The main headline reads ‘Toulon, serial finalists,’ while Laurent Campistron’s match report says Laporte’s side “managed the key moments better” than Munster.
The report goes on to outline how Toulon rarely went backwards in the face of the previously “magical” Munster maul, before highlighting the crucial role Mathieu Bastareaud had in frustrating the Irish side at the breakdown.
Under the English tag line of ‘Wilkinson, as usual’, journalist Bruno Vigoureux explains why the Toulon out-half is the paper’s ‘homme du week-end’. There is praise for the manner in which Wilkinson “went to salute Paul O’Connell at the end of the match” in Marseille.
Munster backs coach Simon Mannix admits that his side “were not surprised by what he [Wilkinson] did in the game. We know that with a kicker of that quality, it could hurt us. And it did; you only have to look at the score.”
One of the lead pieces on the popular rugby website has gone for the rather unfair headline of ‘Beside RCT, Munster became ordinary,’ before going on to outline that the province “never seemed to have the measures to worry Toulon”.
Fabien Pomiès suggests that “with the exception of Simon Zebo, the Irish were reduced to silence,” and that much of Munster’s play was rendered “sterile” by the power of the Toulon performance.
The piece claims that centre Casey Laulala “tried [to break the Toulon line], and yet didn’t succeed in causing them trouble”, while Dave Kilcoyne “experienced a veritable ordeal” at the hands of Carl Hayman.
The same piece refers to the 72nd minute Munster penalty as the “turning point that didn’t take place,” arguing that the Irish pack “broke their teeth on a wall” as they attempted to break through for a potential winning score.