This weekend saw Racing 92 face Toulon in the Top 14 final which was to be played at Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona in front of a record crown of over 98,000. However, in the mist of celebrations for the victorious Racing 92, It was a heart warming moment from Chris Masoe that caught the attention of the rugby community.
Following a fatal car accident in 2015 that took the lives of former All Black Jerry Collins and his wife Alana Madill, Masoe and his wife have helped care for their 1-year-old daughter Ayla who has been in intensive care following the incident.
An emotional Chris Masoe dedicated his team’s Top 14 final win to the memory of his old team mate Jerry Collins. Masoe broke down in tears as he hugged Ayla following the game in Barcelona.
A remarkable performance from Racing 92 saw them fight back with 14 men to beat Toulon 29 – 21 to claim their first French Top 14 title for the first time in 26 years.
The early sending off of French scrum half Maxime Machenaud for a spear tackle on Matt Giteau meant that Racing faced an up hill battle in order to lift the trophy. Following a review from the third official the referee decided to red car the Toulon number 9 for the dangerous tackle.
Toulon went in at half time 14 – 12 to the good, however Racing produced a magnificent second half performance to regain control of the game and eventually the win.
The two kickers Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Carter both took early penalty chances to get each of their sides onto the scoreboard early on. A few further penalties for Halfpenny extended Toulon’s lead, which was then further added to by a score from Mamuka Gorgodze to make it 14 – 6.
Racing would not lie down and after showing excellent discipline and confidence in their game plan, continued to attack Toulon and were rewarded with a succession of penalties that were converted by Dan Carter and Johan Goosen.
After 60mins of play Racing managed to convert pressure into their first try when the legendary New Zealand winger Joe Rokocoko got on the end of his own chip kick to cross the line.
Toulon managed to get another score of their own when center Maxime Mermoz sneaked through a gap in a ruck. Following a successful conversion, the score was 26 – 21 with just 8 minutes to go.
Following a penalty in front of the posts with 3 minutes to go, Toulon opted for a scrum to go for the win. The decision quickly backfired when the referee penalised the front row at the scrum and allowed Racing to clear their lines and gain territory in the Toulon half. A final penalty was rewarded to Racing 92 that Carter successfully converted to take his team to victory.
Following a tense and dramatic game in front of a record crowd at the Nou Camp, it was an emotional end when Chris Masoe carried Ayla around the pitch and dedicated the victory to his old friend and team mate Jerry Collins.