The 16thseason of European club rugby’s elite tournament kicks-off on Friday and Toulouse will open the defence of their Heineken Cup crown in a “Clash of Champions” against London Wasps at Le Stadium on Sunday with captain Thierry Dusautoir targeting back-to-back titles for the first time for Europe’s most celebrated club. There have been a remarkable four titles in 15 seasons for coach Guy Noves’ team but three times they have tried and three times they have failed to defend the coveted trophy – a feat only managed by Leicester Tigers in 2002 – with London Wasps denying Toulouse the “double” at Twickenham Stadium in 2004
“Naturally the objective is to retain our title this time round,” said the man who also led his country to Grand Slam glory last season.
“We have not been able to achieve that so far and it would be terrific to do it but we are aware that it’s tough enough just to get to another final the following season. But we belong to an extremely ambitious club and we would love to go as far as possible once again.
“You never get tired of winning – it is such a great feeling each time – and that will be our objective.
“And we will approach the competition with a lot of enthusiasm, it is something all of us enjoy so much each year as the spirit of the Heineken Cup fits well with our own frame of mind.
“Our first goal is to get a great start against London Wasps and we will be wary of all our opponents to avoid being knocked out early in the tournament as happened in 2007.
“It’s always important in the Heineken Cup to do well in the early stages and we will be going in at the deep end against a tough English squad who are amongst the favourites in the tournament.
“Regarding the potential danger ahead of us in this group, I’d say all teams are dangerous but the biggest danger that could present itself would be to lose our first game at home, we would be shooting ourselves in the foot if that happened.
“Being the title holders doesn’t change much for us – if anything it gives us the extra hunger to win it again – and we always have that energy and will to produce and perform well in this European competition.
“We are always hungry to win more titles, that is the key for us to get motivated each season, and after seeing the video recap on last season’s games it reminds us of all the strong emotions that we want to experience again this year.
“All the work and effort you put in throughout the season are not always rewarded so when that happens it is something for you to enjoy. However, that all goes quickly because soon enough you have to prepare for the new season and start all over again.”