'I'm not too sure what the reason is for that' - Cheslin Kolbe's surprising Champions Cup admission
Toulouse’s four tournament wins in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2010 set a benchmark that Leinster reached with their victories in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018. Now the French club can move ahead again with an historic fifth win on Saturday, but one note of caution – the last time they played a final at Twickenham in 2004, Toulouse lost out 27-20 to Wasps.
Kolbe, who’s been at the Stade Ernest-Wallon since 2017, tried to put a finger on the reason for the added nerves when talking with journalists this week.
“I was fortunate enough to play in a few finals. And, funnily enough, I actually spoke to my wife last night and said, “For some reason, the final coming up this weekend just feels much more nerve-wracking than the final I played in the World Cup”.
“I’m not too sure what the reason is for that. I know it’s two great teams in France coming up against each other and, yeah, I think the nerves, the butterflies, are really starting to show. But I think that’s a good sign as well.
Toulouse Head Coach, Ugo Mola, was a winner with the club in the inaugural final in Cardiff in 1996, while his Forwards Coach, Jean Bouilhou, was a winner in 2003, 2005 and 2010, along with Backs Coach, Clément Poitrenaud.
“Yeah, I think it’s probably [partly due to] the long wait, Toulouse not getting the fifth title for ten years. And I think there is a bit of… Not pressure, but expectations, I think, from the public, from the club.
“And obviously, a bit of pressure on us as players to, hopefully, try and create history by getting that fifth star onto the jersey. But I think, yeah, I’d definitely say that’s going to be our main focus. I think we just need to focus on the processes in the game.
“But I definitely do think that the ten-year wait for the fifth star, and then, obviously, the bit of pleasure that we have, as players, [as we] try and make history as well, that does play a bit [of a part]. But I think, for us, we have an opportunity to make history with this phenomenal group, so [I’m] looking forward to that.
Kolbe says that the weight of the red and blacks’ history is one that is openly spoken about by players.
“We have a lot of old memories all around the stadium, with the four stars and the various teams that have played in the finals. And I think it also just brings a bit of motivation into the group that’s going to be playing this coming week.
“And I think that Toulouse has got an incredible history with the incredible players it’s produced throughout the years. And, obviously, achieving so much with the Champions Cup and the Top 14. So, yeah, definitely a bit of history all around, but I think it’s there to motivate us to, hopefully, succeed this coming Saturday.”
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