Duel of titles, money and time, the Irish format … the keys to the match between Toulouse and Leinster

Toulouse continues its European journey with an Irish accent. After their victories over Ulster and Münster since the start of the final stage, Hauts-Garonnais returned to Dublin, this time to face Leinster, in the Champions Cup semi-finals, on Saturday 14 May. Toulouse, on an AC basis since the start of the European season, will have to work to dominate the Irish team that remains undefeated on the ground in the competition (a defeat on the green carpet due to Covid against Montpellier). Franceinfo: Sport evaluates the keys to the meeting.

duel history

The first semi-final will face two of the selected winners on the European stage. With five titles, Stade Toulouse is the most successful club in the history of the Champions Cup. The Irish follow closely behind, with four titles, last won in 2018. The two teams will also play their 187th European game, more than any other team except Monster (190).

Haut-Garonnais and Leinstermen have faced each other 12 times, for a perfectly balanced record (6 wins on each side). The last time was already in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup, in April 2019. Then Leinster strangled Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium (30-12). Three years later, the stadium has a chance for revenge.

Toulouse before money time

From the start of the final stage, Toulouse likes to take her time to check out her performance. In the round of 16 against Ulster, Antoine Dupont’s saved attempt in the 75th minute in the second leg allowed Ugo Mola’s men to turn the game around and qualify by one point on aggregate (50-49). In the quarter-finals last weekend, Toulouse waited for the unlikely penalty shootout to make the difference against Monster.

Against Leinster, the best attack since the start of the competition (303 points), Toulouse will take care of unblocking the match as soon as possible, so as not to risk being left behind, especially with the accumulated fatigue. But they can always use that patience and mental toughness if the situation demands it.

For this, the Reds and the Blacks can count on the players they have worn all season, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamak (both Ireland’s penalty shootout scorers) at the top. Matisse Lebel, author of two attempts in the quarter-finals, is also back in shape and could also influence the meeting.

Leinster solid but indomitable

Where Toulouse fought to the end with Monster, Leinster were calmer in the quarter-final against England’s Leicester. The case was folded in the first half for the Leinstermen to score 20 points and enter the orbit (23-14). The team is largely made up of Irish internationals (Sexton, Furlong, Ryan, Gibson Park…), the Blues Dolphins during the last Six Nations Championship. Since the start of the competition, they have relied on a forward-looking game, as evidenced by the 43 attempts recorded. I am convinced that Leinster is the best team on the continent, with a very specific philosophy, and it is effective.”Toulouse coach Ugo Mola said at a press conference.

In the league, the Irish stayed on two tough trips to South Africa at the end of April, to the Sharks and Storms, and concluded with two narrow defeats. If they travel with a revamped squad, to rest the most important players ahead of European deadlines, Leinstermen still show they aren’t impervious. Toulouse will also be able to take inspiration from the style of the two South African franchises, who have bet on iron defense (99 interventions on average) and good offensive efficiency (three attempts in 20 minutes for the Stormers), to impose and continue to write their history.

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