Toulouse pay tribute to Paris victims with rousing anthem

Toby Flood admits it was difficult day for only French side to line out in Champions Cup

Toulouse and France captain Thierry Dusautoir during the pre-match minute’s silence in respect of the Paris terror attack victims. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Image

Toulouse and France captain Thierry Dusautoir during the pre-match minute’s silence in respect of the Paris terror attack victims. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Image

 

Saracens 32 Toulouse 7

England international Toby Flood has commended “a fantastic show of solidarity” by four-time European champions Toulouse after they paid an emotional tribute to the Paris terror attack victims.

Flood joined his Toulouse team-mates in singing the French national anthem La Marseillaise on a rain-swept north London evening before the European Champions Cup opener against Saracens at Allianz Park.

They were the only French team in Champions Cup action this weekend, with games scheduled to be hosted by Racing 92, Oyonnax, Bordeaux-Begles and Toulon all postponed by tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby and French domestic rugby chiefs Ligue Nationale de Rugby following the Paris atrocities that left more than 120 dead.

Unsurprisingly, it looked as though the Toulouse players’ minds were elsewhere during much of this one-sided encounter – their heaviest defeat in European competition since 2006 – and Flood admitted it had been a difficult day.

“We decided to [sing the anthem] during the day, and there was a bit of learning of words for me, but it was a fantastic show of solidarity,” he said.

“However much it hurts to lose this game, it has been a pretty tough 24-48 hours for all those guys who have got friends and family who live in Paris and have lots of connections there.

“I think the guys actually wanted to play. They wanted to show they were ready for the game. But it was certainly a game that we realised the importance of, being the only French side to play.”

Magnificent

Saracens boss Mark McCall hailed a “magnificent” first-half display from his team.

Saracens led 27-0 at the break and their only frustration was the failure to secure a try-scoring bonus point on a rain-swept evening in north London. England star Owen Farrell kicked 17 points as Saracens eased past the four-time European champions, with wing Chris Wyles scoring two tries and prop Mako Vunipola also touching down. “We have got to be delighted with how we played in that first half. I thought it was outstanding,” McCall said.

SARACENS: Goode; Ashton, D Taylor, Barritt, Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, du Plessis, Kruis, Itoje, Rhodes, Fraser, B Vunipola. Replacements: Gill for M Vunipola (44 mins), Figallo for du Plessis, Brits for George (both 51 mins), de Kock for Wigglesworth (53 mins), Hodgson for Farrell (60 mins), Bosch for D Taylor (65 mins), Hargreaves for Rhodes (67 mins), Wray for Fraser (70 mins).

TOULOUSE: Medard; Clerc, Fickou, Flood, Matanavou; McAlister, Bezy; Steenkamp, Marchand, Johnston, Maestri, Tekori, Camara, Dusautoir, Picamoles. Replacements: David for Flood, Kakovin for Steenkamp, Tolofua for Marchand (all 41 mins), Harinordoquy for Camara (45), Aldegheri for Johnston (53 mins), Millo-Chluski for Maestri (63 mins), Doussain for Bezy (64 mins), Gray for Medard (71 mins). Sin Bin: Johnston (28 mins).

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).

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