Laporte determined to keep hold of Heineken Cup
September 23, 2013
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal and coach Bernard Laporte hoist the Heineken Cup last season © Getty Images
Toulon coach Bernard Laporte has signalled his intent to keep hold of the Heineken Cup and has joked that the sizeable silverware has told him it wants to stay with the Top 14 club.
Laporte's side claimed Europe's biggest prize last season with a narrow 16-15 victory over French rivals Clermont Auvergne in the title-decider in Dublin and having tasted Heineken Cup glory he is determined to inspire a repeat success this term.
Speaking at the Paris launch of this season's competition, Laporte said:"Winning the Heineken Cup has given us a new status and we would like to retain that. I saw the trophy today at the launch and the trophy said to me: 'The weather is beautiful in Toulon and the girls are beautiful and I don't want to leave'. That's what I am going to say to my players."
Toulon will kick off the defence of their crown next month with Exeter Chiefs, Cardiff Blues and Glasgow set to provide their pool opposition and Laporte is aware that they face a tough challenge.
"We are very proud to have won the Heineken Cup once and we know that if we want to win it again then we will have to be as good as last year. We certainly want to win it again - because it is the Heineken Cup. It is the supreme competition."
The future of the Heineken Cup beyond this season remains in doubt with the battle to shape the future of European club rugby ongoing, but Toulouse assistant coach and three-time winner Williams Servat is hoping the tournament survives.
"We always look forward to playing in the Heineken Cup. It has given so much to the game and has certainly helped to raise standards," he said. "You can't afford to underestimate any team in this tournament. A few years ago there may have been a few easier matches, but no longer. This is what makes the Heineken Cup so special.
"We are proud to have qualified for every tournament and it is very important to the club. Not only for the players and coaches, but also for our partners and fans. We will keep on playing as hard as we have always done in the past."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.
After Sam Egerton became the first person to be red carded in the Varsity match, Scrum Sevens looks at other high-profile dismissals at Twickenham
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby