Noves: Toulouse have to bounce back from defeat

Toulouse coach Guy Noves says that the French Heineken Cup giants will have to bounce back from their shock Heineken Cup defeat6 to Connacht in a Pool match at the weekend.

The four-time Heineken Cup champions went down 14-16 at home to the Irish province in what was arguably one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s history.

“There was disappointment, it was one of the worst moments of the season,” Noves admitted.

“A defeat in the European Cup is never easy to digest, above all when it’s at home.”

“The night was relatively short and we got back to work by force of circumstance to try to find some solutions for next weekend,” when they travel to Galway for the return fixture against Connacht.

Noves said the defeat was all the more galling because it followed an impressive 17-16 victory over English giants Saracens.

“Given our two opening European Cup victories, notably over Saracens, we’d hoped to continue with that type of performance, particularly at home,” he said.

“It’s a bad moment that we have to quickly take on board and rebound from. We mustn’t go to sleep on a failure.”

Noves added that his side had struggled after losing a raft of players to international duty during the November Test window.

“The Saracens match came after two months of competition, some high-quality work from a team that was rising up to its best level,” he said.

“For the match against Connacht, some players hadn’t been at Toulouse for a month and others were coming back from holidays, so there was some work that was not well done, and that was shown in the match when we obviously didn’t have the same automatic reflexes.

“When you have loads of players away on international duty, it’s always more complicated.

“It’s not an excuse but it’s a reason. The fact you don’t have these players at training, it’s tiring and a little long.”

Noves then turned on a proposed agreement between the French rugby federation and the LNR, the body that runs professional rugby in France, limiting to 30 the number of matches French internationals play in one season, arguing it could stop a player from “taking part in half of the Top 14”.

“With 11 Test matches for France and a friendly, since friendly matches are counted, that leaves you 18,” said Noves.

“With six pool matches in the European Cup, you’re then at 12, which means that an international will not even be able to play half the Top 14’s matches,” which amount to 26 in the regular season.

Either way, Noves said, “we saw on Sunday that what we produced on the pitch was a failure”.

“We can no longer be stubborn and must know how to change,” the veteran coach said.

“Toulouse are capable of being sublime when we work well. We’ll see in a few weeks, when everyone’s finally back and we’ll have several weeks of work together, if we’re able to show another face.”

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