Dai Young says Jonny Wilkinson's injury did have an impact on Sunday's game
Cardiff Blues coach Dai Young has admitted that Jonny Wilkinson's enforced absence played a part in his side's Amlin Challenge Cup Final win over Toulon on Sunday.
Wilkinson was forced out of a hard-fought encounter in front of nearly 50,000 fans at the Stade Veledrome after he suffered what appeared to be a back or rib injury 10 minutes into the second half.
Toulon led 13-6 when England's World Cup winning fly-half left the field of play but the Blues went on to score three superb tries as they ran 28-21 winners in a sun-drenched Marseilles.
And while Young pointed to his side's exemplary attitude and mental strength as the central reasons behind their success, he was honest enough to admit that Wilkinson's departure did have an impact on the outcome.
"Wilkinson's injury was a turning point in the game for them and his departure allowed us to play field position," said Young, whose team became the first Welsh side to lift a trophy in 15 seasons of European rugby.
"He was certainly causing us problems and they lost their shape when he went off.
"We were able to pressurise them and they became rushed into what they were trying to do.
"It is hard to put into words how I'm feeling now. That win was down to sheer hard work, commitment and guts. They had us on the rack for long periods, but this team simply didn't want to lose."
Sunday's triumph was made all the more special due to the Blues' heartbreaking experiences in continental competition this time last year.
Just over 12 months ago, the Blues were on the verge of a place in the final of Europe's biggest club competition before their Heineken Cup hopes came to an end in the cruelest of circumstances.
The Welsh capital outfit were beaten in the first-ever European penalty shoot out at the hands of Leicester Tigers but, while he admits that the win over Toulon won't erase those painful memories, Young says the Challenge Cup trophy is a powerful tonic.
"We were very disappointed at the way we went out of the Heineken Cup in such cruel fashion last year," added Young.
"Europe is the great flagship for every team and while we all want to win the Heineken Cup, this is the next best thing."
Finals Edition: Listen to the best guide to the European Rugby Cup Finals weekend in Dublin, which sees Leinster Rugby take on Stade Francais Paris at the RDS on Friday night in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final and then ASM Clermont Auvergne tackle Toulon in an all-French affair at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.