JUAN IMHOFF has capped off a season of exceptional tries from Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup by winning the Champions Try of the Season competition for 2019/20.
Imhoff dotted down for the crucial score against Saracens in the semi-final at Paris La Défense Arena, taking Racing to their third European final in five seasons. The all-round skills for the try, as well as its’ importance, were impressive to Virgin Media pundit Alan Quinlan whose opinions were combined with the fans’ vote determine the outcome.
“Great finish and support line from Imhoff,” said former Munster Rugby star Quinlan, “but the kick from Finn Russell was sublime with [Virimi] Vakatawa’s catch and offload also outstanding.”
Getting the nod from Alan Quinlan sealed the deal for Imhoff with Lewis Ludlow’s breathtaking try for Gloucester Rugby in their pool stage match against Connacht Rugby a close second having proved very popular with the fans.
Imhoff is the fourth winner of Champions Try of the Season after Nick Abendanon (2016/17), Tadhg Beirne (2017/18) and Maxime Médard (2018/19).
Juan Imhoff’s thrilling late try to clinch victory for Racing 92 against Saracens has been named the Champions Try of the Round for the semi-finals.
The Argentine’s effort was selected ahead of Alban Placines (Toulouse) and Joe Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), who both dotted down in the other semi-final match at Sandy Park.
It’s the third time this season that the accolade has gone to a Racing player after Teddy Thomas was twice selected as having finished the pick of the weekend tries for efforts against Munster Rugby during the Pool Stage. As always, the result was determined by a combination of the public vote and the thoughts of a prominent Heineken Champions Cup broadcaster.
“These were three exceptional tries,” said Channel 4’s Nolli Waterman, giving the expert view on this round. “However, the superb execution of basic skills, coupled with the magnitude of this score, is why I have chosen Juan Imhoff for Champions Try of the Round.”
Alex Goode has added to his European accolades with his score in Saracens’ quarter-final win away to Leinster Rugby being chosen as Champions Try of the Round by a combination of the public vote and the opinion of BT Sport pundit Brian O’Driscoll.
Deputising for the suspended Owen Farrell at outside-half, the reigning EPCR European Player of the Year dotted down for a stunning first-half try in Dublin en route to a personal haul of 19 points as the holders surged to a 25-17 success.
“Alex Goode’s try is my pick of the bunch for both its execution and significance in his team’s victory,” said O’Driscoll. “It was a training ground move worked to perfection in manipulating the defence, offloading to change the point of contact, and silky finishing.”
Goode’s effort beat the first of Cheslin Kolbe’s brace of tries for Toulouse against Ulster Rugby into second place owing to its popularity in the public vote, with Racing 92’s Louis Dupichot, Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Maunder and ASM Clermont Auvergne’s Wesley Fofana rounding off the field.
The final Champions Try of the Round competition is due to be launched on Sunday (27 September), with a Champions Try of the Season rounding up the pick of the 2019/20 campaign after the Heineken Champions Cup Final, in mid-October.
Luke Northmore wins Champions Try of the Round competition
Harlequins’ Luke Northmore has won the concluding Heineken Champions Cup pool stage Try of the Round competition with his magnificent Round 6 score against ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Twickenham Stoop.
Quins’ emerging centre came out on top from an impressive shortlist which also included tries by Robert Baloucoune (Ulster Rugby), George Furbank (Northampton Saints), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse) and John Porch (Connacht Rugby) following the votes of fans combined with the verdict of beIN SPORTS’ analyst, Nicolas Jeanjean.
“This response to Clermont’s first try of the match was superbly executed,” said former France international Jeanjean who also featured for Toulouse, Stade Français Paris and Brive during his career.
“The fly half Brett Herron opens the Clermont defence with a nicely-timed inside pass to Cadan Murley, and then Northmore’s excellent finish is as much to do with Alex Dombrandt’s perfect pass into space.”
It is the second time this season that the two clubs have delivered the competition winner after James Lang’s impressive effort at Stade Marcel-Michelin earned the Round 1 award for Quins.
The next Champions Try of the Round competition will take place in early April after the quarter-finals.
Teddy Thomas repeats Champions Try of the Round feat
For the second time this season, a spectacular Teddy Thomas try against Munster Rugby has landed the Try of the Round competition in the Heineken Champions Cup.
The France wing came out as pick of the weekend back in November when he crossed for Racing 92 in their 21-21 draw at Thomond Park and repeated the feat in Round 5 with the first of his brace in the return fixture at Paris La Défense Arena, as guest pundit Alan Quinlan (Virgin Media) praised the quality of the build-up play.
“Teddy Iribaren’s outstanding reverse pass to Thomas created a try out of nothing,” said double Heineken Champions Cup winner Quinlan, whose assessment combined with the public vote to determine the final outcome.
Second-place was shared between Gloucester Rugby’s teenage sensation Louis Rees-Zammit for his effort against Montpellier and La Rochelle’s Tevita Railevu, who crossed in the home win for the TOP 14 club against Sale Sharks.
The public vote also showered praise on Tommy Seymour, with 44% of fans selecting his try against Exeter Chiefs – a fixture in which he won the Try of the Round competition two seasons ago. George Moala (ASM Clermont Auvergne) was also nominated.
The final competition of the Pool Stage will pit the best five scores of Round 6 together on Monday, 20 January.
Lewis Ludlow try named best of Round 4
Gloucester Rugby’s Lewis Ludlow has won the final Champions Try of the Round accolade for 2019 after his spectacular score against Connacht Rugby was deemed the best by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of former Challenge Cup winner and France international, Dimitri Yachvili.
Now the lead analyst for France Télévisions, Yachvili selected Ludlow’s magnificent effort at The Sportsground as the pick of the Heineken Champions Cup, Round 4 action, with the in-form John Cooney’s first try for Ulster Rugby against Harlequins in second place.
“Christmas came early for Gloucester with this try,” said Yachvili. “There’s some excellent build-up play with an impressive offload by Ford-Robinson, and then an even better offload by Rees-Zammit which keeps the movement alive, before the supporting Ludlow dives over.”
Apart from Ludlow and Cooney, other nominations for the competition in Round 4 included George Moala’s first try in ASM Clermont Auvergne’s convincing win over Bath Rugby, Romain Ntamack for Toulouse against Montpellier, as well as Robin Copeland’s match-winning score for Connacht.
James Lowe edges high-quality Champions Try of the Round competition
Leinster Rugby’s James Lowe has come out on top to win the accolade of best try from Round 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup.
Sensational scores from Ulster Rugby’s Sean Reidy and Kyle Steyn of the Glasgow Warriors were popular among the public vote, however, Channel 4 analyst, and three-time tournament winner, Jamie Heaslip, swung the decision the way of Lowe who finished off a sweeping Leinster move during their Pool 1 win over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.
“Jordan Larmour shows the sort of speed that kills and it’s great work by Lowe to stay on his wing and force the Northampton wing to stay out with him,” said Heaslip. “It’s great reaction and vision by multiple players to turn defence inside their 22 when on the back foot into a try.”
Tries from Ahsee Tuala (Northampton Saints) and Alexandre Lapandry (ASM Clermont Auvergne) were also nominated following a thrilling start to the back-to-back fixtures in Round 3.
Teddy Thomas lands second Champions Try of the Round award
Teddy Thomas’ superb score during Racing 92’s thrilling 21-21 draw away to Munster Rugby has earned the second Try of the Round award in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
Both Thomas’ first-half effort and teammate Finn Russell’s try for the TOP 14 club at Thomond Park featured in the Round 2 shortlist which also included scores by Ulster Rugby’s John Cooney and Caolin Blade of Connacht Rugby, as well as Rotimi Segun’s second-half finish for Saracens.
In the end, the Thomas try was selected as the winner by beIN SPORTS’ lead rugby commentator, Rodolphe Pires. “I chose Teddy Thomas’ try because apart from the individual class involved in the finish, you also had a very good blindside option and a perfect pass by the Racing scrum half, Teddy Iribaren, which really created the opportunity,” said Pires.
The winning try from each round of matches in European club rugby’s blue-riband tournament is determined by the combination of a public vote and the choice of a rugby expert.
Harlequins scoop first Champions Try of the Round award
James Lang’s spectacular finish for Harlequins against ASM Clermont Auvergne has scooped the first Try of the Round award in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
The Gallagher Premiership side lost out 53-21 in a free-scoring repeat of last season’s Challenge Cup semi-final at Stade Marcel-Michelin, but the build-up to the second-half score involving some stunning footwork by Gabriel Ibitoye, and then Lang’s eventual dive over the line won the fans’ vote as well as the verdict of former European Cup and Challenge Cup winner, Lawrence Dallaglio.
“It was an incredible break by Ibitoye, in fact, it was so good he ended up beating some Clermont defenders twice,” said Dallaglio, who gave Lang his No 1 after watching last weekend’s matches in his role as an analyst with EPCR’s UK and Ireland broadcast rights holders, BT Sport.
Ibitoye’s individual brilliance and Lang’s try were enough to stave off competition from Clermont’s Peceli Yato in the same Pool 3 match, and from Leinster Rugby’s Johnny Sexton, who made the shortlist after dotting down for the four-time winners in their Pool 1 win over Benetton Rugby. Tom O’Flaherty of the Exeter Chiefs and La Rochelle’s Geoffrey Doumayrou were also in the running for the season’s first award.