Biarritz Olympique have twice gone within touching distance of lifting the Heineken Cup, beaten finalists in 2006 and 2010, and now defending champions Toulouse are the ones to beat if they are to go a giant step closer to a third final and another shot at the title.
The Sunday quarter-final showdown with Toulouse at San Sebastian is a repeat of the 15th tournament final at Stade de France last May when Toulouse claimed their fourth Heineken Cup with a 21-19 win.
“Last season we lost against them at the last hurdle and it is always infuriating to fall short when you are so close,” said midfield general Damien Traille.
“We saw then how much more experienced they are to handle those big events than us and this time round we will look to measure up to them a bit better and pose them problems.
”Each season our objective is to host a quarter final at home and this year we succeeded again. We are lucky to be able to play at Anoeta where we get a tremendous support, and where we can feel a real passion in the week leading up to the game.
“People enjoy travelling to San Sebastian to spend a great day not only at the rugby but in the city.
”Their support will be massive and potentially decisive for us, especially against Toulouse because this game will be extremely tough.
”Whatever the outcome of the quarter-final it will be our last European fixture at home this season because the semi-finals will take place on either Irish or English soil so there’s a good reason to make the most of home advantage.”
Both Top 14 meetings this season have been close and gone with home advantage, Biarritz winning 25-20 in Round 6 and Toulouse 23-19 in Round 19.
“Facing Toulouse in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals is something we are taking very seriously because not only are they the current title holders but they have won the competition four times.
”They are a reference both in Europe and in our domestic league, their players are notoriously good and their game is slick.
”We’ll have to make a massive effort, be extremely precise in what we do and very committed if we want to impose our game upon them.
”Toulouse don’t have many weak points so it is up to us to be sharp and thorough. It will most definitely be a massive challenge for us.
”We would have liked to face another team but the results of the draw were such that we got Toulouse. Winning against them would be a great performance.
”Let’s hope Anoeta will keep being our lucky charm and that we will carry on our adventures further, both for us players and for the club as a whole.
”It’s been a long time that Biarritz Olympique have been hoping to get our hands on the European title. We’ve been lucky enough to experience becoming French champions but as a competitor you always dream of getting more so it is true that the Heineken Cup would be an essential element for Biarritz.
“I think that this club deserves European recognition. Out of the 11 seasons Biarritz have played in the tournament, the club has reached eight quarter-finals, which must mean something. What we need is that little extra that great teams have to win the title.”Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.
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