TOULOUSE WINGER MAXIME MEDARD has already faced down the Front Up, Rise Up fervour of the Connacht fans this season. Having avenged a damaging loss at Stade Ernest Wallon in December, Toulouse were, nonetheless, forced to hit the road in their quest for Heineken Cup glory.
Medard and his Toulouse teammates will run out to a crescendo of ‘Stand up and Fight’ at Thomond Park on Saturday. The French side has yet to face their old rivals in Limerick but the 39-times capped international is confident they can progress to the semi finals.
Saturday’s meeting at Thomond Park represents a meeting between two of the competitions most successful sides. Knock-out rugby is the least both sets of supporters demand each season. The majority of the sell-out, 31,000 supporters at Thomond will be willing Munster on, in the hope they can surpass last year’s run to the semi final.
“We won’t be focused on the fans anyway,” said Medard. “We are here to play a game of rugby. But some of the players do remember when we lost the 2008 Heineken Cup Final to Munster.
“We have often played Irish teams in this tournament, including Munster. We know what our team is capable of and, for the most experienced players especially, the pressure of the fans won’t be a problem.”
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Guy Novès’ side continued their poor run of away form, in the Top 14, by losing to Toulon at Stade Mayol. The previous week, the four-time Heineken Cup champions drew 27-27 with Stade Francais at Stade Jean Bouin. Toulouse, on the road, have flattered to deceive.
In an ERC interview today, Medard commented, “Our team is getting stronger, there is no denying that. There is a lot of seriousness in training and we have raised our level of play in the past two past weeks, even if we weren’t able to get a win.
We have lacked consistency this season. I really can’t say if we’re going to win something this year but we are getting better and we are getting stronger. And I know that with that dynamic we are definitely capable of winning.
“We have the thought of victory in our minds right now and we want to play in a similar manner to how we did over the past two weeks — it was good preparation for the quarter-final.”