Parisse rolls back the years to guide Toulon to Challenge Cup title

·3-min read
Sergio Parisse made the last of his 142 Italy appearances in 2019
Sergio Parisse made the last of his 142 Italy appearances in 2019

Italy veteran Sergio Parisse scored as Toulon beat Glasgow 43-19 on Friday to win their first Challenge Cup title.

Parisse, 39, was one of six try-scorers along with a Baptiste Serin double as the French side, best-known for their three Champions Cup wins over the past decade, brushed aside the Scottish outfit.

"We attacked well, we didn't give in. We dominated the match from the first minute," Parisse told France 3 television.

"When you're almost 40 years old, it's always tough.

"We will celebrate this well tonight in Dublin," he added before a lap of on honour with an Italy flag around his waist.

Glasgow finished their campaign with a defeat after also losing in the United Rugby Championship play-offs to Munster earlier in the month.

"We're really disappointed," head coach Franco Smith told reporters.

"It's natural when you get to the end of a season and it doesn't go your way." he added.

There was a healthy French contingent among the 31,000 crowd inside the stadium with La Rochelle playing Leinster in the top-tier Champions Cup on Saturday.

Glasgow boss Franco Smith picked Scotland pair Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones in midfield, eyeing Scotland's first continental title.

Toulon head coach Pierre Mignoni selected a back-three of South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe, Fiji's Jiuta Wainiqolo and France's Gabin Villiere, promising an open affair.

Toulon, making a fifth appearance in a Challenge Cup final, suffered an early blow as fly-half Dan Biggar was replaced due to a head injury.

The French club responded well to Biggar's early departure by crossing less than 30 seconds later as scrum-half Serin gathered his own smart grubber kick to open the scoring.

Serin converted the extras to make it 7-0 before they doubled their advantage just before the quarter.

Parisse, who is set to retire at the end of the season, then powered over just four months out from his 40th birthday and Serin slotted the additional two points.

Their dominance was rewarded five minutes later as Serin claimed his second, showing his star-studded back-three an example with a double, and he kicked his conversion.

- Standing ovation -

Parisse's ability was underlined catching a high ball from a standing start midway through the first half despite being in his 20th campaign of senior rugby.

Toulon held their comfortable lead until the break but influential Serin suffered a dead leg and was substituted by Benoit Paillaugue.

Glasgow returned from the interval revitalised but failed to make the most of being camped inside Toulon's 22m for the first eight minutes after the interval, highlighting their issues with the ball during the whole game.

Rugby World Cup winner Kolbe, named player of the game, highlighted his quality from the boot with half an hour to play with a lovely touch-finder which eventually resulted in Paillaugue extending the score to 24-0 with a penalty.

Glasgow's slim hopes of a comeback were alight with 25 minutes to go as winger Kyle Steyn crossed after a smart lineout move and George Horne's extras made it 24-7.

Their aspirations were dashed three minutes later as Wainiqolo and compatriot Waisea Nayacalevu crashed over.

Glasgow claimed consolation tries through Sebastian Cancelliere and captain Steyn's second effort as Parisse was given a standing ovation as he added a second Challenge Cup to his trophy haul in an imperious display.

There was enough time for Biggar's replacement in Ihaia West to claim his outfit's sixth try with two minutes to play to the pleasure of those who had made the trip from the Cote d’Azur.