Toulouse (AFP)

"It will be much easier to prepare for the quarter-final of the European Cup than for the start of the championship," said Jérôme Cazalbou, high-level manager at Stade Toulousain on Monday.

After resuming the Top 14 on September 4, Toulouse faces the Irish province of Ulster on September 19 or 20, a match scheduled for April 5 before the competition stops due to coronavirus.

The staff's job is also "to motivate the players for the start of the championship. After confinement, there is an appetite and the desire to return to competition," added Mr. Cazalbou during the club's first training session. open to the press.

After the 2019 title, for many players, the European Cup had become a priority. More than the championship where the club, long deprived of its internationals, occupied only 7th place before the stop.

"It was clear that the players had another investment, another motivation during the European Cup weeks. This allowed us to finish the undefeated group stage," said Cazalbou.

"We are training to attack in September and be ready because, for us, the objectives, the most important matches, will come immediately", confirmed the international center Sofiane Guitoune, who admitted "having evacuated" the disappointment of an unfinished championship and looked forward to the "first rugby session".

New scrum half at Stade Toulousain, Alexi Balès assured him that he had "very quickly adapted" to his new colors to forget a stint in La Rochelle where he was "not fulfilled", in particular due to some misunderstandings with the staff.

He appreciates the challenge that is opening. "It's a special situation. But Ugo (Mola), who I had on the phone during COVID, said to me:" You're ready to play a quarterback. "I said:" Yes yes, I'm going to prepare. . And I worked upstream, "he said.

The Toulouse players started Monday the last week of phase 3 of recovery and must pass medical tests Thursday. If they are negative, they will start next Monday phase 4 which corresponds to a more normal resumption of the preparation.

© 2020 AFP