Toulouse, back to the future

The European champion has been sentenced to the exploit in Ireland, against Munster.

The time to become big again, indomitable, has arrived. After half a year disrupted by the absence of internationals, Stade Toulousain is (almost) complete again. A five-star staff eager to rediscover his dominant game, his decisive gestures, his culture of winning. With Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack as helmsmen, Thomas Ramos as the sniper, the pruning shears Jelonch, Cros and Flament, the devastating Julien Marchand and Cyril Baille on the front line, it’s a team akin to the team that conquered France and Europe last season and that will present themselves next Saturday (4 p.m.) at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Opposite is the province of Munster. Another mole. Face to face, the only two teams to participate in the quarter-finals of the flagship competition for the 19and time! Robbed of their Thomond Park lair because of Ed Sheeran’s concert, the Munstermen have taken over the national team’s stadium, 200 kilometers from Limerick. Connecting the two cities, the M7 will be a long line of supporters, with more than 30,000 members of the famed Red Army expected to be in the stronghold of the sworn enemy, Leinster.

Stade Toulousain goes red and has already done it. As recent as last season. A 40-33 success in 8and finale that, according to the protagonists, heralded their irresistible end to the season. Can they do it again a year later? Since the beginning of April, and the effective return of the Grand Slam heroes, the rise in power has been slow. Just two wins in five games. But successes that matter. In Belfast at 8am. get rid of Ulsterand final of this Champions Cup. Against Stade Rochelais to stay in the Top 14.

Hit or miss

“We find what we’ve been missing in recent months: our collective mental strength to pick up matches at the last momentsunderlines Clément Poitrenaud, the assistant coach leading the attack. In terms of rugby, there are also some interesting things. It’s not finished in 80 minutes, but we feel the team is making progress. The lights are rather green…” Enough to add another milestone in the club legend? “The challenge looks complicated. It goes one notch higher in intensity and pressureforms the former rear of the Rood-Zwart. But we really want to win this match, play a semi-final. We are preparing for a big fight. We are going there to repeat last season’s achievement.

A feat that was subsequently grabbed behind closed doors in a Thomond Park. Can they re-release it in sound and fury? Munster’s head coach, Johann van Graan, did not hesitate to mobilize the Red Army a little more. “The big difference this year will be our sixteenth man. We count on our supporters to tip the scales…” The appointment has been made, the challenge immense. The decisive issue. Now it’s make or break. The kind of competition that wakes up Toulouse’s competitors. The taste of blood.

“The more people and noise there are in the stadium, the more it transcends us,” remembered Romain Ntamack in the columns of Olympic noon† The opener didn’t blink at showing Toulouse’s ambitions. “We have confidence in ourselves. We know we can do it, because we’ve already succeeded. Our goal is not to stop in the quarter-finals. It’s not a lack of humility, we have a right to say so. We are the defending champions, so we have something to defend.

The competitive spirit. Champions are never satisfied. Poitrenaud suppresses a satisfied smile, but he knows it. His protégés are undoubtedly back. ‘Now it’s up and shooting! We will try to go all the way.” the technician announces. By delivering a key. Not the defense – his troops will react – but the attack. “Our attacking play is a little less effective than last season. We expect more from our finishers, from our wingers who, when they are in a favorable situation, have to reward the work of the team. You have to start the machine to regain confidence to get. To become irresistible again.