Toulouse looking to bounce back in Top14 Rugby

Toulouse’s legendary head Rugby coach Guy Noves has demanded his players bounce back after the home defeat in the Heineken Cup last Sunday starting in Friday’s Top 14 Rugby clash with Montpellier which is a repeat of last season’s final.

Toulouse just edged Montpellier in that final but their seemingly serene progress in both the Top14 and the Heineken Cup was brought to a shuddering halt by Harlequins last Sunday in Toulouse.

Noves, who has guided Toulouse to nine domestic titles and four Heineken Cup  trophies, said that he didn’t feel let down by the players but still wanted them to show their true qualities at Montpellier.

Victory for them would keep them top of the table – they are three points clear of 2010 champions Clermont – and leave them with just two defeats in their 13 matches in the domestic league this term.

“I am always more tolerant in defeat than in victory,” said the 57-year-old, nicknamed the ‘Gipsy’.

“The guys have taken a knock to the head but now they must remotivate themselves for the Montpellier match.

“The important thing is that we know what it is like to win.”

Toulouse know they have a tough task on their hands on Friday as Montpellier are back playing the type of rugby that made them such a formidable opponent last term much to the surprise of their rivals.

A difficult start to the season where their star players were away at the World Cup has been transformed since their return and they go into the match with a run of three successive wins in the championship.

While joint head coach Fabien Galthie is set to recall several of his first choice players after he rested them for last weekend’s Heineken Cup draw with Glasgow.

However, there are major doubts whether their inspirational captain Fulgence Ouedraogo will be fit as he is still suffering from the rib muscle injury that kept him out of the two European matches with Glasgow.

While Clermont should overcome Brive away Toulon will want to keep in touching distance of the top two by beating struggling Lyon at home.

The game will see the home fans have a first sight of veteran England lock Simon Shaw, who is due to make his debut having recovered from an injury he suffered playing for the Barbarians against Australia and which kept him out of action for the whole of this month.

Toulon will also be boosted by the return of inspirational former Springbok backrow forward Joe van Niekerk, who has been out for the past two months after undergoing an operation.

Fixtures (kick-offs in GMT):

Brive v Clermont,

Stade Francais v Biarritz,
Perpignan v Bordeaux-Begles,
Toulon v Lyon,
Bayonne v Castres,

Racing-Metro v Agen,

Montpellier v Toulouse

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