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RugbyU: 1,000 matches for Toulouse coach Noves

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Guy Noves will celebrate a major landmark on Friday when the grizzled Toulouse boss marks his 1,000th match with the French giants.

Noves has been associated with the club since 1975 when he made his debut as a player before progressing to coach and manager.

The 59-year-old, who has led Toulouse to a record four European Cups and been involved in 10 national titles, even turned down the opportunity to take the reins of the French national team in 2011 to remain loyal to his long-time employers.

Noves, whose team face Perpignan on Friday, made his playing debut on November 9, 1975, in a crushing 69-6 win over Grenoble before hanging up his boots on May 20, 1988, with a 15-12 win over Dax.

After his 259-game playing career, he has since overseen 740 matches as coach and manager -- including 540 in the Top 14 and a record 131 in the European Cup.

However, age and experience hasn't mellowed Noves, who sees his club's Top 14 fortunes suffer when the national team come calling for the Six Nations.

Last weekend, as France were slipping to defeat against Wales, third-placed Toulouse, the double defending champions, were losing 22-9 at second-bottom Agen.

They weren't alone, as leaders Toulon were mauled 41-0 at third-bottom Bordeaux while Clermont, in second place, went down 12-6 at Racing-Metro.

"We played with one arm behind our backs and against Perpignan on Friday it'll be worse," Noves told sports daily L'Equipe.

"But I am not complaining. The priority has to be the French team. The results of the club don't count.

"We are very proud at Toulouse to have seven internationals and with Thierry Dusautoir as captain."

Despite the domestic programme carrying on, Toulouse's seven French internationals will remain with the Six Nations squad to prepare for the February 23 trip to Twickenham to tackle England.

Toulon have three French internationals away from the club and tackle fifth-placed Montpellier on Saturday.

Their fans worry over the contracts of coach Bernard Laporte's assistants Olivier Azam and Pierre Mignoni as well as 33-year-old fly-half Jonny Wilkinson who is expected to make a decision soon over his playing future.

"I know 13 clubs who would love to be in our position," said Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal, pointing to his team's position at the top of the table and a looming European Cup quarter-final against Leicester.

Friday

Toulouse v Perpignan

Saturday

Toulon v Montpellier, Grenoble v Agen, Clermont v Mont-de-Marsan, Racing Metro v Bayonne, Stade Francais v Bordeaux, Biarritz v Castres

dj/ps

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130214/rugbyu-1000-matches-toulouse-coach-noves