Steve Borthwick insists that Leicester will learn from losing in the Challenge Cup final


Steve Borthwick insisted that the Leicester Tigers would learn important lessons from their narrow European Challenge Cup defeat to Montpellier.

The French eventually celebrated an 18-17 success in Twickenham in front of 10,000 spectators in a back and forth.

After Vincent Rattez flanked for the top 14 side, attempts by Harry Wells and Jasper Wiese turned the game upside down for the Tigers within 13 minutes, but Man of the Game Johan Goosen scored the decisive second goal for Montpellier with 22 minutes left and it turned out to be crucial.

“I think we have to be very proud of everyone at the Leicester Tigers,” said head coach Borthwick.

“I think the fans should be proud of how Tom (Youngs) led the team and how we attacked the game.

“Yes we were able to win but we didn’t make it so there is a lot to learn but that can be positive that we have been so close and there is still growth. We are disappointed, but proud nonetheless. “

Having finished eleventh in a row in the Gallagher Premiership, the Tigers have improved a lot since former England captain Borthwick arrived last summer.

A dejected Leicester scrum after the final whistle (David Davies / PA)

With a strong reputation for qualifying for the Heineken Champions Cup and barely claiming its first European title since 2002, the signs suggest that Mattioli Woods Welford Road Club is on its way back to its past glory days.

With a number of players involved in a flagship game at a relatively young age, Leicester believers are hoping it will be the first of many playoffs for this group.

Borthwick added: “One of the positive things about this game is that we played against Montpellier, which is a great team, has a huge budget, has consistently high quality players and we were very close to beating them.

“At the same time we’re sitting here and saying ‘We could be so much better,’ and if you look at Freddie Steward, look at Dan Kelly, you see Cam Henderson who came, Tommy Reffell who was only 22 years old, here you have a number of players who have played less than 20 games for the Leicester Tigers which is astronomical.

“So we have a lot of growth potential and that is positive in itself.”

While it was disappointing for one of the biggest English clubs, a man from the country was able to celebrate with Alex Lozowski, who started for Montpellier at halftime.

On loan from Saracens it was up and down for the England international with five caps, but he was delighted to give his loyal supporters a reward for a tumultuous season.

Lozowski told BT Sport: “It’s really something special. If we imagine where we come from, we struggled in the top 14 at the beginning and lost a lot of close games.

“But to finish so strong and to win a final now, that’s unbelievable.”


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