where to see and 5 things to know about the Toulouse-Harlequins semi-final

where to see and 5 things to know about the Toulouse-Harlequins semi-final
where to see and 5 things to know about the Toulouse-Harlequins semi-final

In search of a sixth continental crown, the Rouge et Noir face the English Harlequins at the Toulouse Stadium this Sunday in the semi-final.

Where to see Toulouse-Harlequins

The last French representative in the last four of the Champions Cup, Stade Toulousain challenges the English club Harlequins this Sunday. A summit meeting which has been relocated to the Stadium and which will take place to a sold-out audience since some 33,150 seats were sold in… 20 minutes! First in the group stage, Toulouse had home field advantage during the elimination matches until the final (at the Tottenham Stadium in London), they received Racing 92 in the round of 16 (31-7) then Exeter in quarters (64-28) but these two meetings took place at Ernest-Wallon. The semi-final kicks off on Sunday May 5 at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on France 2 And beIN Sports 1. Le Figaro will also offer you live commentary.

Toulouse, head to the (last) square

Stade Toulousain, the most successful club in the Champions Cup (5 crowns), compiles records in the competition. The Haut-Garonne club will indeed play its 16th semi-final this Sunday (the 6th in a row) in 29 editions, present in the last four more than once in two. Only the Irish from Leinster (four titles on the clock) manage to keep up with this frantic pace: against Northampton, they will play their 15th semi-final on Saturday. This year, the Toulouse rugby players relocated their half to the (larger) Téfécé footballers’ enclosure. This will be the fourth time in their history that the Rouge et Noir have played a half at the Stadium but the last one dates back to… 2010. At the time, Toulouse had beaten Leinster (26-16) before dominating Biarritz in final at the Stade de France (21-19) to win the fourth of their five European titles.

Novice Harlequins in semi-final

A historic club in English rugby, Harlequins have, until now, shone more in the Challenge Cup than in the Champions Cup. They are, with Clermont, the team which has won the small European Cup the most times (3 times). At the higher level, it is more complicated since the Londoners – crowned champions of England in 2021 – had, before this 2024 edition, never gone beyond the quarter-final stage in the great European Cup, failing in 1997, 1998, 2009 and 2013. Led by their maestro Marcus Smith, the Quins offer ultra-offensive rugby which notably brought down UBB in the quarter-finals (41-42). But the English are sometimes connected to alternating current, capable of the best (like this success at Racing 92, beaten 28-31 in its Arena in a group match) but also of the worst, like this heavy defeat this season at the Stoop Stadium against… Toulouse (19-47). The reunion promises to be fiery.

Will Evans, the itchy hair

We talk a lot about the offensive strike force of the Quins but, during the quarter-final won against Bordeaux-Bègles, the English forwards showed that they should not be taken lightly. The UBB had notably been dominated in closed melee, losing numerous ammunition. Within the London pack, one player particularly stands out: third row Will Evans. An incredible balloon scratcher, he is formidable in all confrontation zones. The 27-year-old (1.83 m for 99 kg), author of a try against UBB, is the player who made the most tackles in this edition (91) and who recovered the most turnovers ( 12). Be careful, poison! U20 world champion with England in 2016 and finalist in 2017, the flanker, trained at the Leicester Tigers academy (where he started professionally between 2016 and 2019), was quickly summoned by Eddie Jones to the training camp. training of the XV de la Rose, but has not yet honored his first international cap. An anomaly soon to be repaired?

Head-to-head: Toulouse leads 5-1

Toulouse and Harlequins have already faced each other six times in the European Cup. And, for the moment, the results are largely in favor of the Rouge et Noir who have won five times. This season, the two clubs were in the same group and the French champion struck hard by winning largely in England (19-47) in December. “This competition marks the moment when we really find ourselves again. Sometimes we like it a little more than our daily lives. We have to manage to mix the two. When we’re like that, we want to play rugby and we want it to last.”, confided Toulouse manager Ugo Mola after this demonstration. Toulouse’s only defeat, conceded at the Stadium (24-31), dates back to December 2011 in a group match. Note that this will be the second confrontation in a playoff match: Toulouse won by a large margin (51-10) in the quarter-finals of the 1997-1998 edition. A match which had already taken place at the Stadium.

The six previous confrontations between Toulouse and Harlequins
Source EPCR

Harlequins, a name found in the dictionary

The Harlequins wear one of the most original jerseys on the rugby planet, a checkerboard made up of four different colors like the costume of Harlequin, the famous character from commedia dell’arte. But why do Harlequins have this name? Basically, the original name of the London club was Hampstead FC, founded in 1870 in south London. But, over time, the managers decided to change the name since the players were no longer exactly from Hampstead. The story goes that a manager of the club then entered a dictionary in search of an original name starting with the letter H. And it was the word Harlequin which would have been unanimously accepted. Note that some of the club’s members then left Harlequins to found… Wasps. Another historic (first based in London then relocated to Coventry) which recently went bankrupt, victim of the serious financial crisis which hit English rugby and which was also fatal to London Irish and Worcester.



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