Toulouse star admits they are ‘expected to win’ the Champions Cup final ‘convincingly’

Colin Newboult
Emmanuel Meafou in action for Toulouse against Harlequins in the Champions Cup.

Emmanuel Meafou in action for Toulouse against Harlequins in the Champions Cup.

Powerhouse second-row Emmanuel Meafou insists that Toulouse “like our chances” in the Investec Champions Cup final against Leinster.

The French giants have enjoyed another impressive campaign and go into the showpiece event off the back of four successive victories.

They are playing some spellbinding rugby at the moment and currently reside at the summit of the Top 14 table.

Ugo Mola’s men have also shone in the Champions Cup and, after blowing Exeter Chiefs away in the quarter-final, they proved too strong for Harlequins in the last-four.

Success is ingrained in Toulouse’s culture and Meafou admits that there is an “expectation”, from the fans, players and coaches, to claim these big titles.


“When you come here everyone wants to win, but it’s definitely an expectation. They historically are successful and they want to keep it that way,” he told reporters.

“When there’s a loss, or even if there’s a bad performance in a good result, people are not happy. We’re expected not just to win but win convincingly, that’s always the bar, and we set it high.

“So we don’t aim it for anything lower than a win and a good win, so we know what we’re capable of, and the guys, we aim high.

“And as for this weekend, even though our success rate against Leinster hasn’t been good, we’re a different team from three years ago, four years ago, and we just keep getting better.

“So we like our chances.”

Leinster v Toulouse: Bernard Jackman’s five battles to unlock an Irish win, including ‘invaluable’ Springbok experience

Toulouse have won five titles in Europe but they will have to overcome their poor recent record against Leinster to make it six this weekend.

The French outfit’s last victory over the Irish province came in 2018, with Leo Cullen’s men winning the past four meetings between the sides.

In fact, the closest they got was a 29-13 reversal in January 2019 with the following three clashes (30-12, 40-17 and 41-22) all complete blowouts.

Granted, all those games took place in Dublin, but it is still a concerning statistic for Toulouse heading into this mouthwatering final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

“Reviewing our games now, we’ve definitely sat down and said we really haven’t had a good game against Leinster,” Meafou said. “But saying that, Leinster are definitely a quality team, and we just weren’t ready for that.

“So it’s a mixture of things, but inexperience, ill-discipline, and last year we played with two yellow cards and it’s hard to win a final when you’re down a player.

“So just a bunch of stuff, and a quality Leinster team. But I think we’ve grown as a team, and this team there’s a lot of players who have played those two past games, and we’re definitely not the same players or the same team.

“But we like our chances this time and we’re going to give it our best on Saturday.”

Leinster v Toulouse: Paul Gustard reveals the battlegrounds that will decide the Champions Cup final including the Jack Willis factor

Joué, joué

A feature of Toulouse under Mola has been their attacking game. Although they have a number of gargantuan units up front, including Meafou, every player has an exceptional skill set and are comfortable with ball in hand.

“I was raised in Australia, so living and growing up there, when you think of French rugby you just think ‘pick and go, scrums, nitty gritty stuff’. But when I came here, I found out it’s nothing like that,” the France international said.

“Of course they like to enjoy that part of the game, but here the DNA of the game and Toulouse in general, they want to play, and they want to keep the ball alive. And it’s really encouraged from a young age, from the boys in the Under-12s all the way up to the pros.

“They are encouraged to play that brand of rugby, and when it sticks it sticks, and that’s something that we train on, and it’s been working well for us. It’s not only this team this year, it’s definitely a historic brand of this club, and they’re very successful. So if it’s working, why change it?”

READ MORE: Champions Cup: What happens if the Leinster v Toulouse final ends in a draw?