World Cup-winning Springbok Eben Etzebeth had a far more successful French debut than his South African teammate Handre Pollard.
Etzebeth marked his Top 14 debut with a fourth-minute intercept try that saw him charge home from 40 metres for the opening score in a comprehensive 41-19 victory over Clermont, the club’s eighth straight win.
Etzebeth was omnipresent throughout and received a standing ovation when he was subbed off with 10 minutes to play.
Continue reading below…
This follows compatriot Pollard wasting eight points from the boot on his French debut, as Montpellier lost 25-29 at Racing 92.
Bender's French adventure off to a shockerhttps://t.co/52alnlN3kb
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 22, 2019
Clermont’s France wing Damien Penaud was first over the whitewash in the second period, before Toulon hit back through centre Julien Heriteau and a penalty try, the visitors having the final word with a third try through George Merrick.
The game kicked off with an announcement from controversial Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal that he would step down at the end of the season, bringing a close to a star-spangled period for the Mediterranean club.
“I’ve tried to change the destiny of this club and I hope something of that will remain,” said Boudjellal, who financed a raft of high-profile signings including Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau, Bryan Habana, Bakkies Botha and Carl Hayman as the team powered to three European titles.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.