Stade Toulousain-Leinster Final: “Perhaps for the first time, Leinster has adapted to us a little” says Ugo Mola

Stade Toulousain-Leinster Final: “Perhaps for the first time, Leinster has adapted to us a little” says Ugo Mola
Stade Toulousain-Leinster Final: “Perhaps for the first time, Leinster has adapted to us a little” says Ugo Mola

the essential
On the eve of the Champions Cup final against Leinster, Stade Toulousain manager Ugo Mola spoke, this Friday, May 24 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, about the choices of the Irish staff and the confidence that inhabited his group when trying to clinch the club’s sixth continental title.

How are your players on the eve of this final against the ogre Leinster?

I don’t really know how to describe them anymore as they are both in phase with the events that they are capable of playing, in phase with their generation and then disconcerting when approaching events like that where sometimes, the game, the lightness, the carefreeness, despite the fact that he is all getting a little older, always takes over a little. Because I think we approach it all as a game and an incredible chance to be here.

Do you feel your group particularly focused and confident with the latest results and the excitement of this final?

I believe that the two teams are in a rather positive dynamic. In any case, you don’t get to the end of this kind of competition without triggering positive dynamics. The feeling I have, as I said in the preamble, is that the approach and the capacity that they have, despite their young age, to understand events like that allows us to have a sort of, I don’t know if it is carelessness, but the ability to live them fully. I told them that I had enormous confidence in this group and obviously in the team we field. In this season attacked in mid-July, with players who have prepared for a World Cup, who have come back, left, some have other long-term objectives, we have been through all the states. We have the impression of having lived four seasons in one but what characterizes us is this form of permanent karma where everyone feels good, is happy and wants to see each other again. We are not forcing ourselves so I hope that this will be reflected in the results of the weekend.

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What does the composition of your opponent with this 6-2 bench inspire you?

I don’t know. Maybe for the first time, Leinster have adapted to us a little bit and we maybe a little less. Afterwards, this kind of team composition, they have already achieved it against opponents known to be strong, so they certainly put us on the same level as teams like La Rochelle. Rugby today is played at 23 and obviously, the constitution of the bench to finish the match is almost identical in importance to that of starting.

Was the choice to leave Thomas Ramos on the bench difficult to make?

In any case, it’s never nice to lose players who deserve just as much to start playing this kind of event. Afterwards, we quickly shorten the choice of men to replacements, or at least to the person who starts. But it’s more of a general balance and Thomas was perhaps not necessarily in competition with Blair (Kinghorn). It’s a bit of this emulation that we try to have and also to have a very efficient team at the end of the game. Because when you have fun watching the finals for a few years, they are not played with the Longchamp straight. They end up two or three points apart so perhaps the scorer that Thomas represents, without being a guesser, can be of use to us. Or in any case bring us all his experience at the end of the match.

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You remain on two failures in the semi-final against Leinster. What makes the outcome different?

It’s a final, already. We are no longer on the semi-final field. We are not in Leinster. We are on neutral ground. This is what could lead us to be rather optimistic. Beyond the opponent, who is more than respectable. It’s an incredible team. This is the Irish team at 90% of its strength. We no longer present them. They have this ability to play together, with a competition that is somewhat formatted for their own rhythm. We focus on ourselves and what is certain is that we have evolved our approach so as not to think that with the same ingredients, we would have a different result. We have changed some things. In particular the choice of team composition. This ability also perhaps to be more consistent throughout the match. We also got closer to the refereeing world with the arrival of Mathieu Raynal during the week to give us the possibility of not losing the match due to indiscipline or things that could escape our control. We tried to master as many parameters as possible. We know that we can only count on ourselves, on what characterizes these players. This ability to enjoy playing together. We want to play this match. We really want to play it.

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Your counterpart Leo Cullen said that the two clubs had a lot in common. Is this also your opinion?

Also like the team composition, they have adapted to the circumstances and the team they will meet. The club has been shining in Ireland for some time. I don’t know if we can consider ourselves to be shining, but in any case we are present for some time now at the very high French and European level. There are a lot of similarities. We are going to share a tenth star. It remains to be seen which way it will fall. Obviously, These are clubs that have similarities in training, in the ability to play a lot of players. I believe that we are the two clubs which play the most players in a season on a fairly regular basis. We are at 57 on our side, I believe that they are just as much in the double competition that they play. Yes there are a lot of similarities. Stability also in termss of staff, even if there is a new head coach (Nienaber, Editor’s note). The environment still remains fairly stable. There are obviously many things that bring us together. But there are also a few that differentiate us and I hope we will have the opportunity to show them tomorrow afternoon.

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Stade Toulousain has won its last eight finals in all competitions. How to explain this success? Is there a particular recipe, is it a question of state of mind or is there something else?

You have to ask Real Madrid the question. I don’t know. We are going to say that we have had this chance in the last four, with totally different profiles and contexts. From there to thinking that we are more eligible than others to win, I’m not sure. What is certain is that this group has the capacity to be present in these finals. They have all gained in maturity and experience. Romain and “Toto” played their first at the age of 19 and 21 or 22, “Cyssou” waited a little longer, but the fact remains that it is a young generation which has experienced itself over the years. last four finals. That’s 11 semi-finals in a row since we’re almost sure to play the next one so that’s a good thing. I like to take, since I see it in the room, what our president often tells us, namely that we are not assured of anything at a high level. Those who think or claim to be able to win are an illusion. What is certain is that occupying the first places and the first roles, there is a moment when it smiles on you and you can be one of the lucky ones. 11 semi-finals, we must not trivialize it because it is a lot, a lot, a lot of work on the part of this group which does not give up. And beyond this somewhat carefree side, cheerful karma, always remains competitive and competitive when it counts.



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