Toulouse director of rugby Ugo Mola believes his side will be playing Europe’s top team in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals on April 21, when they take on Leinster Rugby in Dublin for a second time this season.
Mola, who has already seen his players lose 29-13 to Leinster at the RDS Arena in Round 5 in January, was full of praise for the defending champions after steering his team to a dramatic 22-21 victory over Racing 92 in Paris on Sunday.
“In the semi-finals we will be playing the best team in Europe at home,” said Mola of Toulouse’s fellow four-time winners. “But we are delighted to be doing so. It’s fantastic to be playing a semi-final at the Aviva.
“Those who have been following this group know that they have something extra, something different. Will that allow us to win something that counts now?
“The reality is that we have progressed beyond one more very important stage and now we have to go to Leinster, where I think something more difficult awaits us.
“We’ve already done our Irish friends a favour, as they didn’t really want to come to La Defense Arena!”
— Stade Toulousain (@StadeToulousain) March 31, 2019
That would have been Leinster’s fate had Racing capitalised on their one-man advantage for nearly an hour, following the sending-off of Toulouse fly-half Zach Holmes for a high tackle.
Mola described Toulouse’s memorable win, which sealed their first European Cup semi-final since 2011, as having “an heroic flavour”.
“We were down to 14 for nearly an hour and even if Racing’s two yellow cards levelled things up, there was still a feeling of heroism at the end, of it being a real knockout match,” he said. “We must keep a sense of proportion and not get too excited, but it was so good to be able to win this match.”
For Racing, the letdown was huge as their bid for a third Champions Cup final in four seasons faltered, although they acknowledged that Toulouse had merited their victory.
Forwards coach Laurent Travers said: “Overall, Toulouse deserved to win. It was one of our aims this season (to win the European Cup), but we haven’t achieved it and we mustn’t hide that that’s a big disappointment.”