Toulouse hope to end road drought against Racing Metro in Hong Kong
Toulouse have still not won on the road in a French Top 14 this season, but perhaps that drought will come to an end when they take on Racing Metro in the Natixis Cup clash at Aberdeen Stadium on Saturday
Even though this encounter - the first time two French clubs will meet in Hong Kong - is not a league game, a lot will be riding on the outcome for Toulouse. Head coach Guy Noves says a good win would give the side fresh momentum as they look towards the second half of the season with an eye on winning the league again as well as spurring their European club campaign.
"The league is taking a three-week break and it is important that we keep our momentum, not only because we want to do well in the Top 14, but also because of our hopes in the Heineken Cup. This match will give us much-needed game time," Noves said.
The storied club are the most successful team in the history of the French Top 14 having won a record 19 titles. And with four European club championship titles also in the bag, it is small wonder that Racing Metro feel they are up against it when they come face to face with their more illustrious opponents.
"They have a great history and are the standard-bearers of the game in France. We are excited about this challenge, playing against them in Hong Kong, and hopefully this will be the first step on the road for us as we look one day to winning some silverware too," said Ronan O'Gara, assistant coach of Racing Metro.
O'Gara added: "It is always difficult playing against Toulouse. Their record speaks for itself and it will be a good day for us if we can get the better of them. But what is important is that our squad with a number of new players comes together. This is the chance for players to put their hands up," said the former Ireland international.
Toulouse, ranked third in the league currently, will be without a clutch of their French internationals including Thierry Dusautoir, who will be leading Les Bleus against New Zealand in Paris on Saturday. Back-rower Gregory Lamboley - his brother Thomas plays for WhichWay Valley in the local Premiership and is part of the organising committee behind this match - will relish the opportunity to lead the side in the absence of Dusautoir.
"It is a great honour for me to lead the side in the absence of our regular captain [Thierry Dusautoir], and with this being the first time such a game is being played in Hong Kong, if not Asia, we are all keen to put on a good show," Lamboley said.
Former Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and All Blacks winger Hosea Gear will be two of the foreign stars on show for Toulouse who arrived in Hong Kong fresh from a 25-13 defeat at the hands of Brive last Saturday. That game was on the road as well.