Heineken Cup 2014: Mourad Boudjellal hails Toulon players
Heineken Cup 2014: Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal heaps praise on his players
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has hailed his players after they defeated Munster to reach a second Heineken Cup final.
The reigning champions overcame the Irish province 24-16 in Marseille to set up a Millennium Stadium showdown with Saracens next month.
It has allowed us to integrate young players who have brought energy and desire that has boosted everyone
“What we‘ve done for some time is simply outstanding,” said Boudjellal. “Over the past five tournaments that we played, we have played five finals—I take my hat to all the staff.
“I want to start by congratulating Munster. Rarely have we been in trouble like today. We’re a great winner because we beat a great team.
“To win two Heineken Cup would be something extraordinary, but we will not celebrate.”
Like Saracens, the big-spending Côte d’Azur club are in contention to win a double as they sit at the top of the French Top14, but Boudjellal is refusing to get carried away with fans dreaming of the ultimate glory in the same season.
“In the final, we’ll play Saracens which has nothing to do with meeting them [in the semi-finals] last year,” Boudjellal added. “Especially, as a week before the final, we have a Top 14 semi-final match.
“But I am very proud that Toulon are the last representative of French rugby in the European Cup.”
Toulon have just last season’s Heineken Cup win over Clermont Auvergne to show for their three European final appearances since 2010, losing twice in the Amlin Challenge Cup, the same fate as their appearances in the final of the Top 14, going down to Toulouse in 2012 and Castres last season, but Boudjellal insists that Toulon will play to the end.
“We have a match in the capital against Stade Français this Saturday to qualify straight to the semi-finals,” he said. “At worst, we finish third and have a [quarter-final] game at the Mayol in front of our fans.
“We’re not going to squander that, but we will have to avoid the same mistakes as last year to juggle both competitions.
“We’ve turned injuries into an advantage this season. It has allowed us to integrate young players who have brought energy and desire that has boosted everyone.”
Boudjellal also reserved praise for his club captain and match winner Jonny Wilkinson, who again kicked the rouges et noirs to victory, saying he helps them win and they owe him as his career comes to an end.
“Jonny Wilkinson is one of those players who makes a team win,” he added. “Having him on our side gives us a psychological advantage over our opponents. We all want to offer something to Jonny, especially against an English club [in Saracens].
“We are not certain if he will stop playing at the end of the season, but we have given him a gift of another final.”