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Emotional Sergio Parisse leaves the field in final ever match

By Josh Raisey
Sergio Parisse, May 28, 2023. (Photo by Nicolas TUCAT / AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Toulon said goodbye to two modern greats yesterday, as Sergio Parisse and Mathieu Bastareaud both played the final match of their careers in front of the Stade Mayol.

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A week after the pair won the Challenge Cup in Dublin, with Bastareaud lifting the trophy, they played their final match in front of a home crowd in what was the final match of the Top 14 season.

Though the Italian and Frenchman did play alongside each other at Stade Francais in what now seems like another life, very few would have expected that they would both be playing their final match of their careers in the same Toulon team, and even fewer would have predicted that they would both be in the same back row. However, the 39-year-old Parisse started at his usual No.8 in the 35-19 victory over Bordeaux-Begles with the 34-year-old Bastareaud at blindside flanker.

It was quite an eventful night for the newly fashioned flanker as well, as he was yellow carded and scored a try before being substituted on 56 minutes to a standing ovation. The 142-cap Italy legend received the same treatment five minutes later when he left the field as well.

Despite being in quite a commanding position in the Top 14 just a matter of weeks ago, a string of three consecutive losses in a row before yesterday’s match meant Toulon slipped out of the play-off places, meaning Parisse and Bastareaud were both deprived of what would have truly been a fairytale end to their careers if Toulon were able to progress to the Top 14 final. Nevertheless, a Challenge Cup and a standing ovation from the crowd is not a bad way to bow out either, with the duo even receiving a guard of honour on the pitch from their teammates after the match.

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