Noves hails Heineken Cup winning Toulouse

Toulouse coach Guy Noves hailed his team as deal breakers after they clinched a record fourth European Cup title with a hard-fought 21-19 win over Biarritz.

The victory was based around a dominant set-piece which destroyed the Basque team, notably at the scrum, and the all-round game of David Skrela at outside-half.

The France playmaker kicked three penalties and two drop-goals, and masterminded Toulouse’s steely midfield defence and probing flat-ball attacks.

Florian Fritz also scored a long-range penalty and a drop-goal for Toulouse while scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili kicked four penalties for Biarritz, for whom Karmichael Hunt scored a late try converted by Valentin Courrent.

“It’s true that we were left shaking at the end when they scored since we’d largely dominated the game up until then,” admitted Noves.

“Our scrum’s been great all season long. We dominated that phase of the game.

“But we also have a gameplan based around speed and movement, and there was frustration for the players that they weren’t rewarded as the final pass often went begging.”

It was Toulouse’s fourth title in the 15 years since the continent’s showpiece tournament was launched, previously winning three times (1996, 2003, 2005) and twice being losing finalists (2004, 2008).

“It means everything to our club, our youngsters. It’s thanks to good recruitment, and really is the fruit of 50 players and down to the quality of assistant coaches and all back-room staff.

“It’s been very tough balancing the Top 14, European Cup and international matches,” Noves said.

“We’d said that our priority this season was the European Cup and we’ve fulfilled our contract.We gave it all for this.”

Asked whether this fourth title was more significant than the past three, Noves joked: “The last time we won I ended up in prison” in reference to an on-pitch run-in with Scottish police after his team’s win in Edinburgh in 2005.

Biarritz coach Jack Isaac was magnanimous in defeat, saying his team had been outplayed over the 80 minutes.

“Toulouse deserved the victory,” the Australian said.

“It wasn’t great,” he said of his team’s poor showing in the scrum.

“Up until now it was a part of the game where we were strong.

“It’s always been a good base to launch the game but today we suffered against a very good Toulouse scrum which was foundation of the victory for the red and blacks. I have no answer for their dominance.

“It’s always the case with Toulouse that they feel dangerous.

Defensively we saved two or three tries close to the line. They can put you in danger at any time and when they speed up things they’re very dangerous.

Having suffered with their domestic form in the Top 14 all season, Biarritz didn’t even make the play-offs for the French first division, which meant that they had gone some time without playing a competitive match.

“We’ve had three weeks without a game and the guys complained about not having much gas left in the legs,” acknowledged Isaac.

“We had a good first half but a very bad start in the second half.

“There is a lack of maturity in the team with many players new at this level, but this experience will help us grow.”

He added: “For me a successful season means winning a title, so it’s been a good season but no more than that.”

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