Montpellier see their run to the semi-finals of the European Rugby Challenge Cup as “a boost of oxygen in a rather hellish season”, according to captain Fulgence Ouedraogo. 

The French club have struggled in the TOP 14, winning just seven of their 20 games to lie 11th, but they have excelled in the Challenge Cup, defeating Glasgow Warriors 26-21 in the last 16 and Benetton Rugby 31-25 in last weekend’s quarter-finals, both at home. 

They now face a trip to Bath Rugby on May 1 and are looking forward to their first European semi-final since 2016, when they won the competition for a second time. 

“At the moment we’re holding on, we’re not giving up,” said Ouedraogo. “This has done us a lot of good. It’s a boost of oxygen in a rather hellish season. 

“We shouldn’t be choosy – it does us a lot of good to return to training on the back of a victory and to work on positive things. It pulls the club upwards.” 

Scrum-half Benoît Paillaugue, who like Ouedraogo played in that victorious 2016 side, reckons it will be “cool” to play in a semi-final. 

“The semi-finals are close to a very high level,” he reasoned. “We are eager to return there.  

“To stay in the TOP 14 and then attempt to win this title would be the cherry on the cake. We have the right to dream, haven’t we? 

We think it’s cool to play in a semi-final, but I feel everyone else wants to enjoy the adventure too and to create something. 

“These results are going to give us more confidence and serenity, and allow us to play better.”