Racing 92 have learned from Champions Cup final defeats, says Henry Chavancy | Sport

The Racing 92 captain, Henry Chavancy, believes his side have learned the lessons of their previous defeats in the Champions Cup final to ensure they get their hands on the trophy for the first time on Saturday.

Chavancy, who makes his first start since September after recovering from a thigh injury, appeared in both Racing’s previous finals – the defeat by Saracens in 2016 and the agonising loss against Leinster two years ago where two late penalties from Isa Nacewa denied the French side victory.

The 32-year-old is the longest-serving member of the Racing squad and is the only one of their players to have featured for them in France’s second tier before their promotion in 2009 – only a year before their opponents at Ashton Gate on Saturday, Exeter, joined the Premiership. As a result Chavancy is well-placed to speak of Racing’s determination to finally end their wait for a major European title.

“This is something that we have been looking for a few years,” he said. “We have the opportunity to clinch this first victory in the European Cup. This is the goal of all of us. We know it will be very difficult against Exeter, who will be looking for exactly the same thing as us. We expect an extremely difficult game on their territory. But we will do everything to win our first European title. Twelve or 13 years ago we were still in the second division. For me, winning the title in Pro D2 and the European Cup with the same club would really have a special flavour.

“Every detail counts, nothing should be overlooked. It can be played on a small mistake. We saw it in 2018 against Leinster where we were leading five minutes from the end and we took two penalties that made us lose the match. We really worked very hard so that this time the details are in our favour and that the result is in our favour.”

Teddy Thomas is a surprise omission from the Racing side with Louis Dupichot selected on the right wing, while Finn Russell and Vimi Vakatawa line up either side of Chavancy, and Simon Zebo is preferred to Kurtley Beale at full-back. Racing’s preparations have not been ideal, having spent the week in a bio-secure bubble in Corsica following an outbreak of nine Covid-19 cases at club at the start of the month.

“The staff made the decision to go and isolate in Corsica to prepare for this final,” Chavancy said. “We benefit from being all together, being able to focus only on this final. I think it’s a good thing to be able to prepare as much as possible for what will await us, which is a very complicated game against a great team from Exeter.”


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