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Molitika and Rush RE:LIVE infamous Heineken Cup semi final

CBTV | 21st April 2020


The RE:LIVE series continued last the weekend, as we took a look at one of the most infamous games in Cardiff Blues history.

Back row duo Maama Molitika and Xavier Rush and former press officer, Gwydion Griffiths, joined us to re-watch the gut-wrenching, dramatic, controversial Heineken Cup semi final defeat to Leicester Tigers.

As you can probably recall, the two-times European champions clinched the win in a penalty shootout following a pulsating affair at the Millennium Stadium.

Reflecting on the defeat, Rush paid tribute to the character of the Cardiff Blues squad and  discussed the manner of the loss.

The former All Black said: “Across the whole team there was a willingness to play for each other and a willingness to win. We believed in the squad we had and enjoyed other’s company.

“That goes a long way. You enjoy the yourself, you enjoy your journey and that breeds success.

“You can see the strength of that Leicester team too, in fairness. It was a good team, you just have to look at the depth they had.

“Heading into extra time, we did have the momentum and in the last 10 minutes we’d come back into it.

“But it’s funny how it goes. We were slow to get out of the blocks but our energy was probably better at the end of the game. It’s funny how games go and it took a long time for us to get going, and that might’ve been a bit of a hang-up from the win against Gloucester in the EDF Cup beforehand.

“It was like a penalty shoot-out in football, it was gruelling. It was soul-destroying. 

“It was a dreadful way to lose a match, but you didn’t come away feeling like a loser. 

“You’ve gone 110 minutes and you were all-square at 26-all, having come back into it. It would’ve been great to go on and play in the final, don’t get me wrong, and it would’ve been or best chance to win it.”

 Molitika and Rush formed an iconic back row combination, alongside Wales international Martyn Williams.

The Tongan international, speaking about the back row, said: “The was a great balance in that back row, and it makes it much easier when we all know our individual jobs.

“Going into every game, I knew what my job was and what I had to do, and you had Rushy and Nugget doing what they did week-in, week-out throughout the season.

“There was a great balance to the whole team and the whole squad, even with the boys who would be on the bench. They’d come on and lift the intensity of the game.

“It was one of the best back rows that I’ve been a part of and it was great to play alongside Rushy and Nugget.

“I remember I was more nervous watching the shoot-out than I’d been at any point in the build up to the game or during the game.”