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Champions Cup View from France: Toulouse ‘unbeatable’ in finals (unless they meet Munster)

Rugby trumps the local market in France, predictable Leinster and Toulouse’s officiating edge

Toulouse’s La Dépêche newspaper continued their build-up to the Champions Cup final between Leinster and Toulouse on Saturday with an interview with Francois Cros under the heading “We have nothing to be ashamed of against this team.”

The brilliant French international flanker said: “We obviously always have these lost semi-finals (2019, 2022, 2023) in mind. This year, the scenario is different. There, we arrive on neutral ground, not at their [Leinster’s] home. We tried to learn from our failures to grow from them. We will see on Saturday, but we will go there without negative pressure, with the desire to play a great match and to have a lot of fun.”

Le Parisien newspaper drew attention to a remarkable statistic under the heading, “Unbeatable in the final since 2008, Toulouse wants to continue its crazy series against Leinster.” The French club have contested and won all eight finals between Top 14 and European tournaments since. The last club to beat them in a final? Munster at the Principality stadium.

No marché no party

Toulouse’s traditional Saturday organic goods market at Charles-de-Gaulle square has been cancelled by the municipal authority to facilitate the erection of a giant screen to show the Champions Cup final at Place du Capitole, to which an estimated crowd of 10,000 are expected to flock.


It certainly hasn’t pleased the exhibitors who not unreasonably claim that there shouldn’t be a clash between a market that takes place in the morning and a match with a 3.45pm kickoff, local time. “It’s catastrophic for organic traders,” lamented Thibault Melon, president of the organic market. The local authority did try to reach a compromise but an offer to allow the market run until 10.30am was rejected.

Predictable Leinster?

Former France, Toulouse, Castres and Saracens outhalf/centre/fullback and ex Guardian columnist, the urbane Thomas Castaignède, a European Cup winner with Toulouse in 1996 believes that Leinster are predictable and that his former club can win Saturday’s final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“Leinster are an impressive team, with their [attack] waves and constant playing options around the ball carrier. They look impregnable but I tend to believe that they have a predictable side that the Stade Toulouse does not have. What a bunch of forwards in Toulouse! Cyril Baille is absolutely incredible. HIs performances aren’t always highlighted as much as they should be. And finals are won up front, everyone knows that in this club.”

Watchful Raynal

Toulouse brought French referee Mathieu Raynal into their training sessions on Monday and Tuesday, to run an eye over their work. Raynal, who retires from officiating at the end of the season, presided over Leinster’s semi-final win against the Northampton Saints at Croke Park. Midi Olympique reported that: “The objective: a reminder of the points of law and the opportunity for players to stay alert as discipline will inevitably be a determining sector against the Irish ogre.”

By the Numbers: 21

The number of years since former Leinster and Ireland international Trevor Brennan won a European Cup with Toulouse in Dublin. His son, Joshua, will hope to bridge that gap this weekend.

Word of Mouth

“Antoine Dupont is not only the best number nine, but probably the best world player in recent years. But it’s a challenge that we look forward to responding to collectively.” Jamison Gibson-Park when talking to the French media earlier in the week.