Toulouse coach Ugo Mola lauded the club's "incredible generation" after they sealed Top 14 glory for the 20th time in the club's history on Saturday.

Yoann Huget scored a pair of tries in a 24-18 victory over Clermont Auvergne at the Stade de France, earning Toulouse their first title since 2012 and the glory days under Guy Noves.

The club set a record points total of 98 during the regular season and established a new benchmark for tries scored by running in 102.

"A 20th title in Toulouse, it's huge for the club," said Mola in a post-match interview.

"When I arrived four years ago, we rebuilt and rebuilt. We have an incredible generation.

"Clermont and Toulouse will often meet in this kind of match for the years to come."

France winger Huget said: "Before the match, we were told to imagine all possible scenarios.

"I could not imagine another way of ending this beautiful season. The group was stronger than anything.

"Everything aligned for us this season."

The result meant Clermont hooker Benjamin Kayser brought the curtain down on his career on the back of a disappointing defeat.

While the former France international was frustrated with Clermont's attack, he was proud of a season that included European Challenge Cup glory and anticipates the club will continue to compete for major honours.

"There are many regrets. We did not have enough ambition and there was indiscipline at stupid moments, which made the difference," said Kayser.

"But I'm proud of what he did this year. The group did not give up and I am proud to have been able to transmit that to this young group, which will take the club far."

Yoann Huget scored a double as Toulouse overcame Clermont Auvergne 24-18 in the Top 14 final at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Toulouse posted a record 98 points and scored an unprecedented 102 tries to top the table in the regular season and Huget's brace ensured they did not end the campaign empty handed.

European Challenge Cup winners Clermont were denied a double in a repeat of the 2017 Top 14 final, with Toulouse avenging their defeat in that match to claim the trophy for the first time in seven years.

Thomas Ramos cancelled out a pair of Greig Laidlaw penalties before France wing Huget dived over in the right corner for the first try of the match.

Clermont lost Alexandre Lapandry due to a head injury and another three-pointer from Laidlaw was all they could manage after Toulouse full-back Cheslin Kolbe was sent to the sin bin for an off-the-ball tackle.

Toulouse worked the ball impressively from left to right to get Huget in for his second and Ramos converted for a nine-point lead.

Clermont were unable to find a way through Toulouse's defence, with Ugo Mola's team deservedly lifting the trophy.

The Sharks secured their place in the Super Rugby play-offs with a last-gasp turnaround in Saturday's 12-9 win away to the Stormers, who missed out on a top-eight finish in heartbreaking fashion.

Rhyno Smith's 28th-minute try ensured the Sharks went into the break 5-3 up, as he pounced on a loose ball in the defensive half and darted clear of the entire Stormers team in an otherwise cagey opening period.

For the most part, the second half was even tighter, as penalties from Josh Stander and Jean-Luc du Plessis looked set to take the hosts through.

But incredible drama followed in the dying seconds, as Lukhanyo Am broke the line when cutting in from the left in the 82nd minute, leaving two in his tracks before crossing when the Sharks' season was hanging by a thread.

Robert du Preez rounded things off with the conversion, as the Sharks head into the play-offs at the expense of their hosts.

The Sharks will be joined in the play-offs by the Bulls, who ran out 48-27 winners over the Lions, who needed to win to get themselves into the qualification spots.

A thrilling first half saw the two sides trade numerous blows, as the Lions started on top with a try inside the opening minute, but the Bulls were ultimately stronger, going into the break 31-19 up.

The hosts ran in three more tries in the second half, one of which was claimed by Handre Pollard, who finished with 18 points as the Lions missed out on a spot in the play-offs for the first time since 2015.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald has hinted that Sonny Bill Williams and Ma'a Nonu will not return to the team next season.

The Auckland franchise surrendered a 19-point half-time advantage to lose 29-24 to the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium in their final Super Rugby match of the year on Saturday, which could prove to be the last outing for Williams and Nonu.

MacDonald's team were already out of play-off contention but capitulated against a team without key players including Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape.

Former New Zealand centres Williams and Nonu will be out of contract after the Rugby World Cup in Japan and MacDonald is preparing for a significant loss of experience in the midfield.

"There are going to be some personnel changes, that's just natural, every year there are going to be some," he said after the loss to the Hurricanes.

"We've got our six or so [leaving], but now we've got a good understanding of where we feel we need to bolster, we can go and attack that area.

"We could be losing a lot of experience in the midfield, we're not certain of that yet, but we've got to get the right people in that midfield to help control the game with the 10s and have some good game understanding."

The Brumbies stretched their winning streak to six matches while the Hurricanes rallied to stun the Blues ahead of the Super Rugby play-offs.

Already certain of finishing third in the overall table, the in-form Brumbies were aided by the early sin-binning of Reds prop Taniela Tupou in a 40-27 win.

The yellow card wiped out a second Reds score that would have made it 12-0, with Andy Muirhead quickly crossing at the other end for the first of six tries from the home team.

Departing Reds back-rower Scott Higginbotham was also sent to the sin bin in the second half as they slipped to a 10th loss of the season, while their opponents appear in prime form ahead of a play-off tie at GIO Stadium next weekend.

Earlier on Saturday, Hurricanes appeared in danger of slipping to defeat when they trailed 24-5 against their New Zealand Conference rivals at the break, Tanielu Tele'a, Caleb Clarke and Melani Nanai all crossing for the visitors.

However, coach John Plumtree made use of a powerful bench to turn the game around in the second half, running in three tries without reply to steal the win in Wellington.

Jackson Garden-Bachop converted on each occasion and also slotted over a 76th-minute penalty for a Hurricanes side that will be back at home for a quarter-final tie.

The Jaguares thrashed the Sunwolves 52-10 in the final round of Super Rugby to secure second spot ahead of the quarter-finals.

Japanese visitors the Sunwolves were no match for the in-form Jaguares, who ran in eight tries to two in Buenos Aires on Friday.

Jaguares pair Sebastian Cancelliere and Julian Montoya scored two tries apiece as the Argentine hosts held a 21-10 half-time lead at Estadio Jose Amalfitani.

It was one-way traffic in the second half after the Sunwolves lost a second hooker to injury which forced scrums to go uncontested and they had to drop a player for the remaining 33 minutes.

The Jaguares – who have won five games in a row to top the South African Conference – took advantage with 31 unanswered points following the break.

Now, the Jaguares will host a quarter-final, while the Sunwolves – bottom of the Super Rugby table – will prepare for their final season in 2020.

Newcastle Knights chief executive Philip Gardner has hit out over an "inappropriate" approach for Kalyn Ponga after Michael Cheika reportedly contacted the full-back over a potential code switch.

Ponga has two and half years left on his contract with the Knights, but the Queensland Maroons star is in demand.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has made no secret of his admiration of the Australia-born 21-year-old, who made his New Zealand Maori debut this year.

Wallabies boss Cheika is said to have been in touch with Ponga in a bid to lure him to rugby union, leaving Gardner distinctly unimpressed.

"It's not surprising that rugby union have identified Kalyn as a talent they wish to get their hands on," Gardner said.

"What does come as a surprise is that an official from their code would personally phone our talent despite the fact he has several seasons left to run on his contract.

"It is inappropriate for any contact to be made from rugby union – or anyone else for that matter – and it is extremely disappointing.

"The reality is Kalyn is under contract for another two and a half years with the option for a third year.

"Kalyn is a superb talent and quality person. He is a player we see being part of the Knights fabric for years to come. I can assure not only Knights supporters, but fans of the game, we will be doing everything in our power to sign Kalyn long-term when the time is right."

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg also spoke out over the interest in Ponga.

"Kalyn is a wonderful talent and a fine ambassador for rugby league and the Knights, and it is not surprising that there would be interest in him at the appropriate time." Greenberg said.

"The nature of this interest is certainly unorthodox. Kalyn has a significant period remaining on his contract and it would be disappointing to see any contact made to any player under these circumstances."

Stephen Larkham has been appointed as senior coach of Pro14 side Munster on a three-year deal.

Larkham was axed as Australia attack coach in February due to a difference in attacking strategy between himself and Michael Cheika.

The World Cup-winning former Wallabies fly-half has agreed to a new challenge under Johann van Graan at Thomond Park - subject to a work permit 

Munster also pulled off a coup last week by luring Graham Rowntree to the Irish province ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Larkham said: "I am very excited and honoured to be joining Munster Rugby.

"A big part of my decision lies in the values of the club and the importance they place on community. I have come from a very similar environment and know how effective and enjoyable that can be.

"I have had a number of conversations with Johann and I'm very excited to be working with him, as our views on rugby are very similar.

"I'm also looking forward to meeting and working with not only the other coaches in Graham and JP [defence coach Ferreira] but also the very talented group of players that Munster have."

Munster's Pro14 title hopes were dashed when they were beaten by Leinster at the semi-final stage last month.

The Chiefs secured their place in the Super Rugby play-offs in style on Friday, while the Highlanders kept their hopes alive with a landslide win of their own.

Winger Shaun Stevenson scored a hat-trick of tries as the ruthless Chiefs tore apart the Rebels, running out emphatic 59-8 winners at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Jack Debreczeni also touched down and kicked six conversions in the rout, meaning the Hamilton-based team heaped more misery on a Rebels side beaten 66-0 by the Crusaders in the previous round of fixtures.

Sam Cane crossed to open the scoring in the 13th minute while Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Lachlan Boshier and Marty McKenzie also went over, with the bonus-point triumph completing an impressive comeback after Chiefs had opened the campaign with four straight defeats.

Highlanders, meanwhile, remain in play-off contention after a 49-12 thrashing of the Waratahs, who are now out of the post-season picture.

Needing a bonus-point win to remain in contention, Highlanders charged out to a 42-12 half-time lead in Wellington against opponents minus several of their Australia internationals as part of the Wallabies' World Cup preparations.

Josh McKay, Tevita Li, Thomas Franklin, Waisake Naholo and Teihorangi Walden all crossed for the hosts, while their pack also forced a penalty try in the 35th minute.

Josh Ioane was succesful with five of his attempts at the posts but the high-scoring Highlanders eased off after the interval, Rob Thompson eventually adding to their points tally in the 80th minute with a try that Elliot Dixon converted.

South Africa hooker Malcolm Marx will take a six-month "sabbatical" in Japan after the Rugby World Cup, the Lions announced on Friday.

The 24-year-old has been linked with a move to the Docomo Red Hurricanes, who play in Japan's Top League.

Marx's destination in Japan was not disclosed by the Lions and SA Rugby, but they said he would head there after this year's global tournament, which begins in September.

Lions chief executive Rudolf Straeuli said the franchise had been determined to "look after his wellbeing".

Although Marx will have a spell overseas, he has agreed an extended contract with his Johannesburg-based Super Rugby side that will keep him with the Lions until 2021.

A statement confirming the deal said: "Lions Rugby Company, together with SA Rugby, and the newly established contracting model have been able to retain the services of the outstanding Springbok hooker by ensuring the player’s career is managed and sustained.

"Marx will be able to enjoy a temporary release after the 2019 Rugby World Cup for a sabbatical in Japan and he will return to South Africa and the Lions in June 2020."

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said it was "very good news indeed" that Marx had committed to return to play for the Lions after his spell in Japan.

Marx added: "For now I am totally focused on the Lions' Super Rugby campaign and forming part of the Springboks for 2019."

Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani re-signed with Rugby Australia (RA) and the Brumbies, extending his deal until the end of 2020.

Kuridrani, a veteran of 58 Tests, last featured for Australia in late 2017, having suffered a pectoral injury in 2018.

The 28-year-old signed a one-year extension with RA and the Brumbies, who are top of the Australian Conference in Super Rugby.

"I am very pleased to have signed this extension to my current contract. Canberra has been my home for a long time now and I love playing for the club in front of our fans who have always been very good to me," Kuridrani said.

"It's a good group of players and staff here and we are like one big family. Canberra is a beautiful place to live and I and am looking forward to making some more happy memories with both the Brumbies and the Wallabies."

The Fiji-born Kuridrani made his Super Rugby debut in 2012 and has gone on to feature 119 times for the Brumbies.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika praised Kuridrani's form ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

"Tevita has been in strong form so far this season and I'm pleased he's staying in Canberra with the Brumbies after the World Cup," he said.

"He got the chance to get a full preparation this year and it's showing. I know he's very hungry to earn a Test jersey again this season so I am looking forward to him being at his best in 2019."

England defence coach John Mitchell has extended his contract until 2021 and Eddie Jones intends to stay on as head coach for another two years.

Mitchell was appointed by Jones last September after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) agreed a compensation package with Super Rugby franchise the Bulls.

The New Zealander is reportedly a contender to replace Jones, whose future has been the subject of speculation.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney on Thursday revealed that Australian Jones plans to see out his contract.

"We have extended John's contract consistent with Eddie's, so it goes through to June 2021," said Sweeney. "Eddie has reconfirmed his commitment to stay through to 2021.

"The focus is on the World Cup and then making sure we get our plans in place post-World Cup.

"We've already started conversations of what the coaching structure will look like coming back from Japan, and Eddie has a number of names in the frame.

"We haven't approached them yet, and we wouldn't contract anyone pre-World Cup, but he has in mind how he would like to structure that when back from Japan."

Ireland great Ronan O'Gara has been appointed head coach of French club La Rochelle.

O'Gara has been serving as backs coach with the Crusaders but will return to Europe at the end of the Super Rugby season.

He will succeed Xavier Garbajosa at La Rochelle, who finished fifth in the 2018-19 Top 14 campaign before being defeated by Toulouse in the semi-finals.

The 42-year-old O'Gara will move into his highest-profile role since turning to coaching.

He said: "My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Christchurch and were welcomed in to the Crusaders family with open arms when we arrived in early 2018. This is one of the best rugby clubs in the world, and it certainly wasn't an easy decision to move on from this team and their high-performance environment.

"I'm grateful to the Crusaders for the faith they've shown in me as a coach, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have worked alongside a world-class playing and management group for the last two seasons. While I see this move to La Rochelle as the next step in my coaching career and an exciting opportunity for my young family, I'd like to think, long-term, this is not necessarily the end of my time with the Crusaders.

"My focus now is helping to deliver a successful 2019 campaign with the side before my family and I return to France at the end of the season."

La Rochelle confirmed the appointment at a news conference, with director of rugby Jono Gibbes welcoming O'Gara.

"He knows the Top 14 well, he has the experience," Gibbes said.

Former fly-half O'Gara spent four years on the Racing 92 coaching staff before joining the Crusaders and helping the team land the 2018 Super Rugby title.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said: "We've seen a huge amount of personal growth in Ronan during his time here, he continues to be a great friend to me and he's been an integral part of our success to date.

"On behalf of the Crusaders team, we wish Ronan and his family all the very best on their return to France."

O'Gara won 128 caps with Ireland, scoring a record number of points for his country, and was also a member of three touring British and Irish Lions squads.

Warren Gatland said he could not turn down a third stint as British and Irish Lions head coach as he has "unfinished business" to settle in South Africa.

Gatland ruled out taking charge of the Lions again after the tour of New Zealand two years ago, which he said he "hated" in part due to the press and negativity in his homeland.

The New Zealander, who will end his tenure as Wales head coach after the Rugby World Cup, has had a change of heart and will lead the Lions in 2021.

Gatland was forwards coach when the Lions were beaten 2-1 by the Springboks a decade ago and the 55-year-old is determined to settle a score.

He said: "I love the Lions as a concept. There were parts of the New Zealand tour that were incredibly challenging.

"It's probably the hardest thing that you'll ever do as a coach in terms of planning and preparation and the scrutiny of the press is always something that's at the forefront of the Lions tour.

"But one of the things about when I reflect back on New Zealand is the hospitality that we had there, the atmosphere in the games that was there was incredible.

"And being part of the Lions and the opportunity to go to South Africa and potentially finish some unfinished business, I couldn't turn my back on the challenge."

Gatland masterminded a series win over Australia in 2013 prior to a 1-1 draw with the All Blacks and he does not expect to take charge of the Lions again after facing South Africa.

Asked if it will be his last Lions tour, Gatland replied: "I think so, yeah. The challenge for me as the head coach is to go undefeated in a Test series.

"I've been privileged to be involved in what will be four tours. I appreciate the support I've had from someone like [2009 head coach] Ian McGeechan. Being head coach is incredibly special and something I'm proud of."

Warren Gatland has been confirmed as head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the 2021 tour of South Africa.

The departing Wales boss had previously ruled out a third successive stint with the Lions, stating he "hated the press and negativity" he experienced on the tour of New Zealand two years ago.

Yet after masterminding a 1-1 draw with the All Blacks in his homeland, the 55-year-old will lead the Lions in a series against the Springboks - eight years after he was first in charge for a 2-1 triumph in Australia.

Gatland will end his long tenure with Six Nations champions Wales after the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year and starts his Lions role on August 1, 2020.

"I'm hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again," said Gatland.

"It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four home nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.

"South Africa is a special place to play rugby. They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.

"Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.

"History tells you it's a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win – I would not be here if I thought differently.

"I'm delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales."

Gatland could make history by becoming the first Lions coach to lead tours of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa without suffering a series defeat.

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