Yachvili boots Biarritz to Challenge Cup title

Scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili kicked seven penalties to win Biarritz European Challenge Cup final 21-18 and the title at the Twickenham Stoop.

The victory makes Biarritz the Amlin Challenge Cup winners for the 2011/12 season and earns them automatic qualification for next season’s Heineken Cup.

The title is the the Basque club’s first piece of continental silverware.

But the influential French scrum-half was fortunate to still be on the pitch when he landed the winning kick six minutes from time of the disappointing final at the Twickenham Stoop.

Just moments earlier, he had tap-tackled Toulon scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde while lying in an offside position, a yellow card offence which referee Wayne Barnes missed.

With the scores level at 18-18, after Jonny Wilkinson had succeeded with a long-range drop goal, Yachvili made the most of his lifeline to land the winning penalty in a disappointing final of Europe’s second-tier competition.

The win also meant Biarritz qualified for next season’s European Cup while big-spending Toulon, for whom Wilkinson kicked all the points, were left still waiting for a first European title.

In a tense season finale, Toulon also had two players sin-binned early in the second half with former All Black prop Carl Hayman yellow-carded for a spear tackle on US winger Takudzwa Ngwenya.

He was quickly followed by English flanker Steffon Armitage.

Biarritz had led 12-9 at the break, thanks to Yachvili’s accuracy while Wilkinson had kicked three penalties but had also missed his opening shot at goal in the eighth minute.

The former England fly-half pulled Toulon level at 12-12 before Biarritz made the most of their two-man advantage to stretch to 18-12.

Wilkinson then reduced the deficit to three points with another penalty on the hour mark before making it 18-18 with a trademark, inch-perfect drop goal.

The English veteran missed a difficult penalty just moments before Yachvili’s controversial illegal trip on Tillous-Borde.

Toulon, Challenge Cup runners-up in 2010, now turn their attentions to the French Top 14 play-offs where they face Racing Metro in the quarter-finals next weekend.

Final Score Toulon 18 (9) Biarritz 21 (12)


Penalties: Wilkinson 5
Drop-goals: Wilkinson

Penalties: Yachvili 7

Match Officials
Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: David Pearson, JP Doyle (England)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
Citing Commissioner: Denis Templeton (Ireland)


Biarritz Olympique: I Balshaw; T Ngwenya, J Barraque, D Traille, D Haylett-Petty; J Peyrelongue, D Yachvili; Y Watremez, A Heguy, E Van Staden, J Thion, P Taele, W Lauret, B Guyot, I Harinordoquy [capt]

Replacements: B August, S Marconnet, F Gomez Kodela, E Lund, T Gray, M Bosch, C Gimenez, I Bolakoro

Toulon: B Lapeyre; A Palisson, M Bastareaud, M Giteau, D Smith; J Wilkinson, S Tillous-Borde; E Lewis-Roberts, S Bruno, C Hayman, C Samson, K Chesney, P Gunther, S Armitage, J van Niekerk [capt]

Replacements: J Orioli, L Emmanuelli, D Kubriashvili, J El Abd, G Messina, D Schofield, F Cibray, J Suta

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