These characters had not come to Bordeaux to amuse the gallery. For the first time in their history, Harlequins qualified for the final four of the Champions Cup, the great European Rugby Cup. They emerged victorious from a gargantuan test match – six on each side – on the pitch of Union Bordeaux-Bègles (UBB), Saturday April 13. Final score: 41-42! It was better not to have a weak heart at the Chabans-Delmas stadium, as the spectators experienced such emotional lifts.

“If we are the Bordeaux-Bègles team that I have known since the start of the year, we should have a shitty match,” railed UBB coach Yannick Bru before this quarter-final, in reference to the inconsistent performances from its team, currently sixth in the Top 14. Deprived of two of its best players, the French internationals Matthieu Jalibert and Damian Penaud, the UBB made too many errors in its game launches in the first period to be able to compete with a daring London formation. She turned things around in the second half, but ultimately failed by a small point.

Despite more than 30°C in the sun, the Harlequins were determined to impose their rhythm on the locals, by multiplying the restarts by hand from their camp. From the start, Will Porter concludes a breakthrough from André Esterhuizen, then the fly-half Marcus Smith causes a penalty try and a yellow card against his opposite number Mateo Garcia for a voluntary forward. After less than 10 minutes of play, it was already 14-0 for the visitors.

Outnumbered, the Girondins reduced the gap, Maxime Lucu flattened behind the line following a carried ball – making up for his missed tackle on the opponent’s first try –, then imitated by Romain Buros, after a collective sequence ( 12-14, 26th).

But the Harlequins stunned the UBB, striking twice, in quick succession, before the break: Will Porter scored a double by tapping a kick to follow for himself, then Will Evans cemented the domination of the English pack (12-28, at halftime).

Suspense until the end

The French neo-international center Nicolas Depoortère reignited the suspense by achieving a breakthrough in the defense (19-28, 45th), bringing in its wake a strong moment for his team, but the London forwards further widened the gap by sending a ball carried to the Promised Land (22-35, 59th) just before the cool-off break. The best of the show was yet to come in the last twenty minutes.

Full-back Romain Buros takes the initiative to quickly play a touch in his camp, he finds the ball, escapes a tackle and serves on a plate to his winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey who goes to score in the corner. Here is the UBB which returns to six points after the corner transformation of Maxime Lucu (29-35, 60th).

Five minutes later, after a pass “in the socks”, the Girondins are under pressure… And then, everything changes with a kick from Louis Bielle-Biarrey poorly received by a London player. Romain Buros, in all good moves, recovers and delivers the ball to Madosh Tambwe who scores.

For the first time, the UBB goes in front and the public is on their feet (36-35, 65th). Quickly cooled by a new test of strength from the opposing pack. Marcus Smith takes his momentum to type the transformation… “time off! » announces the referee. After watching the replays, the test was finally refused for a forward.

Not discouraged, the Harlequins went on the attack again. And, at the end of an 80-meter restart, after having covered the length, width and width of the field, full-back Tyrone Green gives his team the advantage (36-42, 72nd).

When Bordelais Madosh Tambwe flattened the opponent’s goal four minutes later, the hearts of Yannick Bru and all the supporters pounded. The winger took care to get closer to the posts to facilitate Maxime Lucu’s decisive transformation. The ball rises, caresses the post and finally falls on the wrong side for UBB. This time, the score will no longer change: 41-42, victory for Harlequins. The match will be remembered for a long time.