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Toulon retain rugby's European Cup

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Update: 4:03PM Jonny Wilkinson's final rugby match in Britain ended in joy for the England great as reigning champions Toulon beat Saracens 23-6 in the European Cup final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Toulon captain Wilkinson kicked 13 points in a match where the star-studded French side scored tries through Australia's Matt Giteau and South Africa's Juan Smith.

All Saracens had to show for their efforts were two penalties from Owen Farrell, Wilkinson's current successor as England fly-half.

Victory meant Toulon, who edged out French rivals Clermont 16-15 in last season's final, became only the third team after England's Leicester and Irish province Leinster to retain the European Cup.

This win also kept Toulon on course for a 'double' ahead of next weekend's French Top 14 final with Castres.

That match is now set to be Wilkinson's last after he announced his retirement earlier this week.

"It's a hell of a feeling," said Wilkinson, who turns 35 on Sunday.

"I am proud to be part of this team and be part of this. The season has one more week to go, I will take this with me forever."

Toulon No.8 Steffon Armitage, in England exile because he plays his club rugby in France, was named man-of-the-match after forceful work at the breakdown.

"We knew it was going to be really tough. Our work rate was the main factor," Armitage said.

Saracens, like Toulon, now also have a shot at domestic glory next Saturday against Northampton in the English Premiership final.

And coach Mark McCall insisted he'd have no problems restoring his side's morale.

"If we were playing Newcastle away next weekend I'd back our group to front up, but with the Premiership final coming up there is no question whatsoever," he said.

It was the last European Cup competition, to be replaced next year by the 20-team European Rugby Champions Cup.

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