Rugby: Lawson urges old mates to show no merci towards Toulouse stars

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FORMER Edinburgh Rugby star Rory Lawson has drawn on his experience of beating Toulouse this season to offer encouragement and advice to his old team ahead of Saturday’s Heineken European Cup quarter-final showdown at Murrayfield.

Scotland scrum-half Lawson helped Gloucester defeat Toulouse 34-24 at the group stage of this season’s competition and he has warned Edinburgh: “You’ll have to score tries to beat Toulouse.”

He added: “One of the great things we also did was match them in the scrum.

“Toulouse have a massive pack. Physically, you stand up next to them and you think: ‘My word, they are an awfully big bunch.’

“However, Edinburgh have shown already against the likes of Racing Metro that if they can get cleanish ball and move opponents around then they will really challenge.

“Against Toulouse, it is a movement game – you have to make their front five work hard.

“In Europe, Edinburgh have, so far, looked after ball well and I think that is key because if you concede turnover opportunities then Toulouse – as they showed against us in scoring a try off a scrum strike against the head – will hit you on the counter and that is where you have to defend particularly well.

“Edinburgh have to attack them and take opportunities.

“In many ways, Toulouse are to the rugby world what Barcelona are to football.

“The front row we faced was Gurthro Steenkamp [South Africa], William Servat [France] and Census Johnston [Samoa].

“They had Yoann Maestri, who is now in the French squad, in second row with Patricio Albacete [Argentina] and a back row of Yannick Nyanga, Thierry Dusatoir and Louis Picamoles, all French internationalists.

“Add to that Luke Burgess [Australia], Luke McAllister [New Zealand] and Lionel Beauxis, with a midfield featuring Yannick Jauzion and Clement Poitreneaud at full-back and they have quality throughout.

“But if you attack them they can play below their abilities and we showed that in winning 34-24. To do that we came from 7-17 down and there was a stage where if we had conceded the next score we were in real bother.

“But we managed to chip away and chip away at them.

“About five to ten minutes before half-time there was a break in the play for an injury and we looked around and thought ‘they are done’ as their front five was bent double and we said we had to keep the ball against them and pick them off and take opportunities.”

Lawson added: “We may have worn Toulouse down, but I don’t think you ever know you have them. Only when, with two or three minutes left, our full-back, Jonny May, rocketed away down the wing to put us two scores ahead did I begin to think we’d beaten Toulouse.”