Bourgoin living a dream

Bourgoin – the first winners of the European Challenge Cup back in 1997 – never for a moment dreamt they would be back under the Euro spotlight this season.

Benjamin Boyet – their international No 10 who forms such a class half back partnership with Morgan Parra – admits their presence in the final against Northampton Saints at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday night has taken them all by surprise.

“It would be fantastic to finish off the season with some silverware and being so close to achieving what we never thought possible at the start of the season is amazing and we can’t let the fans down now,” said the 29-year-old outside half.

“That is because they have been so supportive – even in the worst moments – though beating Worcester Warriors in the semi-finals and more recently Castres at home were formidable experiences for our fans.

“The club has done its utmost to organise bus trips for the supporters to travel and cheer for us at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday night and have also arranged for giant screens to be put up at the ground for those who can’t travel.

“It will be a superb event and, now that we have won games away from home, we have no excuses anymore and winning a title at Twickenham would be even more rewarding and significant.

“Both Northampton Saints and ourselves are in similar situations as we both had complicated domestic seasons but now we have the chance to finish on a high and get a real boost out of that.

“The Saints are a typical English squad who never let up and play hard for the whole 80 minutes and that’s where we need to be cautious. They are physical and will have benefited from a three-week recovery period since they finished their championship earlier than us, which could make a big difference in terms of preparation.

“Nevertheless, winning in the quarter-finals by beating the London Irish came as a real surprise as the odds were against us and we were probably the first to think we wouldn’t be up for the challenge.

“However, I think that was the turning point because winning that game gave us higher and bigger ambitions and we realised that we could actually go all the way.

“After that victory we managed to maintain our position in the Top 14 in France – which was our major objective from the start of the season – and then we won the European Challenge semi-final against Worcester convincingly and that created a snowball effect.

“With the difficult season that we’ve had at Bourgoin we had to make sure we could survive as a club in the Top 14.

“But, once we started to regain our strengths and win games in our domestic championship, we had a different approach and, because we were maybe relieved and more relaxed, we were also able to play and perform well in the European Challenge Cup.

“So whatever happens in the final we have accomplished our mission and now we all hope the club will keep going as it should and anything else will be a bonus. Now we are fully focused on the European Challenge Cup final and, since we are out of the danger zone, that means we have a more serene approach.”

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