Post a Comment Print Share on Facebook

Toulouse-Leinster: a dream final and some nightmares

Statistics lovers will surely appreciate it.

- 2 reads.

Toulouse-Leinster: a dream final and some nightmares

Statistics lovers will surely appreciate it. Leinster is truly the bane of Stade Toulousain: few teams can indeed present a positive record against the Rouge et Noir since the start of the Champions Cup. In 14 confrontations since 1997, the Dublin province has indeed won 8 times. A record that has increased significantly in recent years, with three straight defeats for Toulouse in the semi-finals (2019, 2022, 2023). But this time, the two most successful teams in the competition will challenge each other in the final, for the title, at the higher level. “We are one match away from lifting a trophy, we have been training daily for that, for 10 months this season and even several years. We know that it’s very hard to get there,” says Antoine Dupont.

The scrum half and captain of the French XV knows the Everest that lies before him and his teammates. “We know this opponent very well, who is difficult to maneuver and who wants to win as much as we do after losing twice in the final. It will be a particular context, for which we must prepare.” Three weeks to prepare. Not necessarily quietly with the reception of Stade Français Paris, rough leader of the Top 14, and a trip to Montpellier, deposed 2022 French champion who is battling at the back of the pack. For the final, “our team composition will perhaps be different in three weeks, that gives you time to think,” laughs Ugo Mola.

Before this semi-final, the Toulouse manager had released a small dig to his phalanx made up of internationals: “This team has a lot of appetite, they want to mark their history and their time at Stade Toulousain. For the moment, it's not bad, but they have not yet marked the history of the club like certain generations. In recent history, the gang of Dupont and Ntamack has still won three Brennus (2019, 2021, 2023) and a Champions Cup (2021). It's just the assessment of Ugo Mola which is still far from that of Guy Novès...

Also read: Toulouse's notes against Harlequins: Dupont omnipresent, Cros and Costes in tune

One certainty: Toulouse will have to show that they have gained in maturity and efficiency to overthrow Leinster. “When the table for the final phase came down, we suspected that the Irish, by their qualities and their appetite for this competition, would find themselves in this place,” says Antoine Dupont. But we focused on us. We knew our objectives, we put ourselves in the best conditions to receive in the final phase. In the quarters, the Dubliners swept La Rochelle, who had beaten them in the last two finals. A detail that did not escape the Toulouse scrum-half: “We stopped in the last two semi-finals against Leinster, but they then lost twice in the final. I don't know who is happier or unhappy in the story. And now, whoever the opponent is, it remains a final. There will obviously be a happy person and a disappointed person at the end.”

This season, Toulouse have had an immaculate run, scoring at least four tries in all their Champions Cup outings. “We are capable of doing very complicated things, very beautiful to look at, but there are also very simple things that we do poorly. It’s paradoxical, but it’s a bit our truth,” notes Antoine Dupont. And the best player in the world 2021 added: “When we throw balls at each other, it always ends up in someone’s hands and we go behind the line. It’s a very pleasant feeling, something that we can touch with our fingertips at times and that we need to be able to master a little more.”

Despite its immense record, Stade Toulousain is well aware that it will have to overcome its old demons in the final. “The pressure will be increased tenfold in the final,” insists center Paul Costes, already a revelation of the season. “Nothing is done, nothing is acquired,” insists third-row Alexandre Roumat. As long as you don't win a title, there's no point in showing off or declaring victory, knowing that we know very well that the team we're going to face is probably what we're going to face. is currently doing the best.” And François Cros, stainless warrior, continues: “We are going to play this final to the fullest so as not to have any regrets. All finals are great but this one will be even more so because Leinster are an opponent who has eliminated us quite a few times..."

Last year, before suffering his third defeat in a row in the semi-final against the Dubliners, Ugo Mola said: "That's two lessons that I'm taking in Dublin... I've always been told that when you repeat the same mistakes, we're a bit stupid. Either I will be the idiot in the story with my staff, or we will have understood certain things..." One difference this year: this shock will not take place in Dublin.

But the Toulouse technician recognizes that his troop will go “to challenge (his) ogre, a team that we have difficulty beating but we have never played them at this level. And apparently we are difficult to beat in the final. Only two defeats in eight finals, in fact. Distrust, one of Toulouse's two defeats in the final was against Munster in 2008 (the other against Wasps in 2004). So Toulouse has never beaten an Irish team in the Champions Cup final. A statistic to be denied.

Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
Warning! Will constitute a criminal offense, illegal, threatening, offensive, insulting and swearing, derogatory, defamatory, vulgar, pornographic, indecent, personality rights, damaging or similar nature in the nature of all kinds of financial content, legal, criminal and administrative responsibility for the content of the sender member / members are belong.