Toulouse continues its European journey with an Irish accent. Later his victories against Ulster and Munster Since the start of the final phase, the Haut-Garonnais have returned to Dublin, this time to face Leinster, in the Champions Cup semi-final, on Saturday 14 May (live on France 2 and france.tv). The Toulouse, in alternating current since the start of the European season, will have to work to dominate an Irish team that remains undefeated on the field in the competition (a green carpet loss by Covid against Montpellier). Franceinfo: Sport takes stock of the keys to the meeting.
A duel of history
The first semifinal pits the two most beautiful winners on the European scene. With five titles, Stade Toulousain is the most successful club in the history of the Champions Cup. The Irish are close behind with four titles, the last acquired in 2018. The two clubs will also play their 187th European game, more than any team apart from Munster (190).
The most successful teams in the Champions Cup will meet this Saturday
— French Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup_FR) May 11, 2022
Haut-Garonnais and Leinstermen have met 12 times, for a perfectly balanced record (6 wins for each side). The last time was in the semifinals of the Champions Cup, in April 2019. Leinster then drowned Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium (30-12). Three years later, the Stadium has the opportunity to take its revenge.
Toulouse before the time of money
From the start of the final phase, Toulouse likes to take his time to validate his performance. In the round of 16 against Ulster, a save try from Antoine Dupont in the 75th minute of the second leg allowed Ugo Mola’s men to turn the game around and qualify with a point advantage in the two games combined (50-49). In last weekend’s quarter-finals, Toulouse expected an unlikely penalfailed to make the difference against Munster. “As a player or as a coach, this is one of the moments that will mark me for life.“, slipped Ugo Mola, the Rouge et Noir coach, at a press conference.
Against Leinster, who have the best attack since the start of the competition (303 points), Toulouse will rather have an interest in unlocking the game as soon as possible, so as not to run the risk of falling too far behind to fill out, especially with accumulated fatigue. But this mental strength that allowed them to reach the quarterfinals is an additional resource. “Psychologically, mentally, these are moments that wear you down a bit, but they are so good to bear that in the end you leave with the banana and the desire to move on to next week.“, believes the side and scorer Tomás Ramos.
The Rouge et Noir can count on the players who have worn them all season, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack (both penalty shootout scorers in Ireland) in the lead. Matthis Lebel, scorer of two tries in the quarter-finals, is also back on form and could also weigh in on the match.
Leinster solid but not invincible
Where Toulouse fought to the last with Munster, Leinster had a much quieter quarter-final against England’s Leicester. The case was folded in half the time, time for the “Boys in blue” to score 20 points and go into orbit (23-14). With a large part of the Irish internationals (Sexton, Furlong, Ryan, Gibson-Park…), Blues dolphins during the last Six Nations Tournament, they have bet from the beginning of the competition for an early game, as evidenced by their 43 tries registered. “I am convinced that Leinster is the best team on the continent, with a very specific philosophy, which works.”believes the coach of Toulouse, Ugo Mola.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) May 11, 2022
In the league, however, the Irish continue with two difficult trips to South Africa at the end of April, against the Sharks and the Stormers, ending with two narrow defeats. If they traveled with a revamped squad, to rest the biggest players ahead of the European deadlines, the Irish still showed they are not invincible. Toulouse will also be able to draw inspiration from the style of the two South African franchises, who have opted for a strong defense (99 tackles on average) and good offensive efficiency (three tries in 20 minutes for the Stormers), to prevail and continue to write their history .