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Watch: Toulon fans jeer Owen Farrell during Challenge Cup semi-final

By Ian Cameron
Owen Farrell Credit: BT Sport

Toulon supporters clearly have a different interpretation of ‘respecting the kicker’ – at least judging by their reaction to Owen Farrell at Stade Mayol tonight.

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The home crowd could be clearly heard jeering Saracens flyhalf during his attempts at goal in their Challenge Cup semi-final in the south of France.

Every time Farrell stepped up to the tee, resounding boos could be heard around the raucous stadium, all apparently directed at the England star.

“Please respect the kicker, said no one at Toulon,” joked commentator Nick Mullins, before David Flatman jokingly suggested: “Maybe that’s just how they respect the kicker down here.”

There was some suggestion that fans were actually booing the decisions of referee Andrew Brace, an official that has often come in for criticism in France following the 2020 Autumn Nations Series.

Either way, it didn’t appear to unsettle Farrell, who proved as accurate as ever.

RC Toulon and Saracens were both bidding to join the elite group of four clubs – Bath Rugby, Leinster Rugby, Northampton Saints and Wasps – who won have both the Heineken Champions Cup and the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Toulon had extra motivation to make the 70-kilometre journey once again having lost a dramatic 2010 decider to Cardiff Rugby at the Stade Vélodrome in front of a record attendance for an EPCR Challenge Cup final of 48,990.

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And in the end so it was, with Mark McCall’s Londoners beaten 25-16 by their fellow black and reds.

Following on from Wasps’ defeat earlier in the day, Toulon will play Lyon in an all-French final at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.

A brace of tries from France Six Nations grand slam wing Gabin Villiere, along with a stunning individual effort from Jiuta Wainiqolo, got Toulon over the line while player of the match Louis Carbonel also kicked 10 points.

Saracens managed just one try from Ben Earl.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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