Ugo Mola, the manager of the Stade Toulousain, takes the matter with a little irony: “The French and English championships dominate Europe.
Club rugby is therefore not completely dead. "
In this unprecedented 2019-2020 edition of the Champions Cup, two Franco-English semi-finals - Racing-Saracens (2 p.m.) and Exeter-Toulouse (4.30 p.m.) - will be held on Saturday, which will be a first at this level of the competition.
On the other hand, there have already been three times, in 25 editions of continental games, the last squares with only English and French clubs: in 1998, 2005 and 2016. With, in the end, a 2-1 advantage to the teams of Across the Channel since Bath had been crowned against Brive in 1998, the Saracens had beaten Racing in 2016 while Toulouse had won the Franco-French final against Stade Français in 2005.
»READ ALSO -
»READ ALSO -
Stade Toulousain: masked training, anti-doping test and confinement at the hotel in Exeter
However, for Laurent Travers, the manager of Racing 92, this double confrontation between Top 14 and Premiership clubs “shows that the two championships are very tough.
That means the quality of our Top 14. It's up to us to do what is necessary to maintain this level of requirement of the Top 14, which will also be beneficial for the France team. "
Since the last of RC Toulon's three consecutive coronations in 2015, Saracens (2016, 2018, 2019) and Leinster (2017) have reigned supreme over the Old Continent.
This year, the Irish provinces - which nevertheless bet everything on the European Cup - have been blackballed from the last continental square.
This had only happened five times in the history of the competition (1997, 1998, 2005, 2007 and 2016).
“Whether it is the Uster (a title), the Leinster (4) or the Munster (2), they have always been present, remarks Laurent Travers.
But it also shows that the other two championships, for the moment, have gained a bit of the upper hand. "
His scrum half Teddy Iribaren disagrees: “I don't think the Irish are below.
There was a supremacy of the Irish then the English for a while, this does not mean that the French championship was below. "
“I had the impression that before the French clubs played more the Top 14 than the European Cup. It has not been reversed but it is just as important ”
“I had the impression that before the French clubs played more the Top 14 than the European Cup.
It has not been reversed but it is just as important ”
On the other hand, the number 9 Ile-de-France advance another track: “Today, the French clubs are put to the page.
I had the impression that before the French clubs played more the Top 14 than the European Cup.
It hasn't reversed but it's just as important.
French clubs have also been able to acclimatize to arbitration which is different.
Today, French clubs are playing the European Cup thoroughly and we can see that it is working.
All the better for us."
Racing has climbed for the third time in its history in the European top 4, while Toulouse, old accustomed, will play its 12th semi-final.
Only Munster did better (14).
"READ ALSO -
"READ ALSO -
Claassen (Racing):" We are confident but a little stressed too "
On the English club side, Exeter, the emerging power of the Premiership (2017 champion and currently well ahead of the 2019-2020 season which will end), qualified for the first time in its history at this stage of the competition, for its 7th participation.
The clash between Toulouse and Chiefs, two offensive teams that have never crossed paths in the European Cup, promises to take off.
Mistrust for the teammates of Dupont and Ntamack, the English are undefeated this season on the European scene (6 wins, one draw).
No talent drain among the Saracens
Racing is attacking the ogre Saracens.
A formidable crushing machine which dominated, in the quarterfinals, the madré Leinster, who had not lost a knockout match at home in the European Cup since 2006. The “Sarries” revenge after being relegated to the second division and deprived of Champions Cup next season, for repeated irregularities concerning the salary cap.
Iribaren Teddy is necessarily suspicious: “The players are a little victims of everything that has happened.
They have a strong group and I think they are at the same level as last year. ”
Despite its setbacks, the London club did not have to suffer a massive drain of his talents.
“They haven't lost a lot of players, less than you might think,” continues Iribaren.
They have a solid squad, their squad is not as large as last year but they are not lacking for the start of the season.
After four or five matches, the bodies are not too tired… ”This eliminatory match between the two teams will be unprecedented at the start of autumn but it will be a reunion after the defeats of the Parisians in the spring of 2015 (quarterfinals) and 2016 (final).
Champions Cup schedule and results