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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 5 December, 2019

'We know we're playing the best team in Europe, but we will be playing our rugby'

A resurgent Toulouse arrive in Dublin confident they can topple the defending champions in tomorrow’s semi-final showdown.

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium

TOULOUSE HEAD COACH Ugo Mola believes tomorrow’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final against fellow four-time winners Leinster will be the next step on his side’s journey back to the top of European rugby.

The Top 14 leaders were welcomed to Dublin by glorious blue skies this afternoon and Mola’s squad enjoyed a gentle run-out at the Aviva Stadium in anticipation of Easter Sunday’s heavyweight showdown here.

Cheslin Kolbe Cheslin Kolbe at today's captain's run. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The last four tie will be the third meeting of these two sides this season after they traded home wins during the pool stages, and their 12th tournament clash overall as Europe’s two most successful sides go head-to-head for place in next month’s Newcastle decider. 

Mola’s Toulouse arrive in confident mood having suffered just two defeats in their last 23 outings, and with a star-studded XV named for tomorrow’s semi-final [KO 3.15pm, BT Sport/Virgin Media/Channel 4], they will pose a serious threat to Leinster’s crown. 

“We cannot ignore the way Leinster play, they have a good mastering of rugby,” the head coach said at the pre-match press conference.

“They know their rugby, it’s Irish rugby. We know where we stand, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to win, but we need to keep what makes us strong and express ourselves as best as possible.

“To beat a team beat like Leinster we need to play the perfect match. If we play surgical rugby, Leinster will master us. Every weekend we get better and of course, we hope to be better and better each time we play.”

In 11 previous meetings in Europe, Leinster and Toulouse have played each other twice before at this stage of the competition, with each side winning once, and then going on to lift the title. Overall, Toulouse have the edge, with six wins to Leinster’s five.

Their resurgence under Mola and Regis Sonnes is now in full flow and with Toulouse back in the top four, a first European crown in nine years is within touching distance.

The emergence of young players such as Cheslin Kolbe, who has beaten 45 defenders, Thomas Ramos and Antoine Dupont, coupled with the experience of overseas players Jerome Kaino and Reinhardt Elstadt, has made Toulouse a European force to be reckoned with again.

“We have great young players who can surprise everyone,” Mola continued.

Ugo Mola Mola speaking at the press conference. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“We feel there is some form of responsibility and there’s a spirit to the fight. We know tomorrow will be one step in the return of Toulouse to the top of European rugby. We want to win tomorrow. I hope we’ll do it and we have this ambition as we want to grow and work hard.

“Our fortune is to be part of this new adventure, the group is still very young. We’re so eager to please our supporters. For us, this is huge. 2,000 supporters are to come, clearly, there is a good spirit.

“Of course, there is the weight of history but a source of motivation. The players are demanding more from themselves. When you play for a club like Toulouse, you have to be up for the challenge, the prestige of the club.

“We know we will dealing with the best team in Europe but we will be playing our rugby. Leinster will try and stop us but we want to have enough balls to let our rugby be known.” 

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to preview the Champions Cup semi-finals and all the week’s news on the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

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Ryan Bailey

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