No place like home for Toulouse and Dusautoir

Triple Heineken Cup champions Toulouse have qualified for the tournament’s quarter finals for the 12th time – but there is still work to be done.

The 1996, 2003 and 2005 champions of Europe had initial home advantage in all three seasons that they went on to lift European club rugby’s most coveted trophy.

And although they have qualified again and done it with a match to spare, the Pool 5 leaders are not finished yet and are targeting a home quarter-final when they travel to Edgeley Road to face Sale Sharks on Sunday in the closing match of the Pool stages of the landmark 15th season of the Heineken Cup.

The maximum five points from the 33-21 victory over Harlequins in Round 5 ensured automatic qualification for Toulouse but captain Thierry Dusautoir is adamant that the club’s objective is to earn a home quarter-final.

“We really want to win at Sale,” said the French international back row forward.

“It would be a great performance but that is the reason why we are going to work as seriously as possible this week because the main objective will be to get a win to host a quarter final at home.

“At this stage of the competition we all know how important it is to host a knock-out stage game on your own turf.

“It is good that we are already qualified but the qualification will not mean much if we don’t win the Heineken Cup at the end of the season.

“We really want to win the tournament this year – it is essential for us – and it starts with the necessity to win at Sale on Sunday.”
Toulouse, who failed to reach the knock-out stages in 2001, 2002 and 2007, have also been knocked out in the quarter-finals on three occasions.

Ulster Rugby did it in 1999, Leinster in 2006 and Cardiff Blues managed it last season but Dusautoir is looking no further than trying to bank that home quarter-final tie and accepts that all of the last eight will be major threats once it is all about sudden death matches.

“There is no specific club that I would like to face in particular at the quarter-finals stage,” said Dusautoir.

“At this stage of the competition all opponents are ready to go all the way.

“Whether or not the team is used to taking part in knock-out stages is no longer important, because our opponents as well as our own team will be ready to win.”

The win over Harlequins was Toulouse’s 74th tournament victory from 106 matches and, with four draws thrown in along the way, they have a success rate of close to 72 per cent.

“We performed well in scoring four tries against Harlequins,” added Dusautoir.

“We are happy with qualification but there is still one match to play in which we will have to get the points to host a home quarter-final and please our fans.”

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