Cockerill not mourning Toulon's loss after Halfpenny's Lions departure

Richard Cockerill claimed he had no regrets that Leigh Halfpenny abandoned his team to join the British and Irish Lions
Richard Cockerill claimed he had no regrets that Leigh Halfpenny abandoned his team to join the British and Irish Lions
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Toulon's outgoing head coach Richard Cockerill is not mourning over Leigh Halfpenny's departure to New Zealand to join the British and Irish Lions as the Top 14 club lost the 2016-17 finals to Clermont by 22-16 at Stade de France on Sunday.

The 28-year-old fullback was the star of the French club's 18-15 semi-final win over La Rochelle a week ago in Marseille but decided to skip Sunday's final in Paris to join the Lions.

Replacement kicker, youngster Anthony Belleau, missed two crucial penalties thus costing his side a decisive six points haul as Toulon lost 22-16.

However, coach Cockerill refused to hold Belleau responsible for the defeat as well as acknowledge Halfpenny's departure making an impact on his side's result.

"The game was very tight, six points difference. We hit the post twice and we played to the 83rd minute and were just short," he said.

"Anthony's kicked well and the difference is (tiny)," said Cockerill after his last game in charge.

"He'll learn from this experience but, like I said, kickers win you the game and don't lose you the game - we had other opportunities."

Cockerill, who took the coaching reins of the Top 14 side for just seven games is set to be replaced by Fabien Galthie ahead of next season.

 

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