Rugby Club Toulonnais (French pronunciation: [ʁyɡbi klœb tulɔnɛ]), also referred to as Rugby Club Toulon or simply Toulon, is a French professional rugby union club based in Toulon and competing in the Top 14. Located on the French Riviera, in the Provence region, the club plays its home games at the 17,500-capacity Stade Mayol.

RC Toulon
Full nameRugby Club Toulonnais
Nickname(s)Le RCT
Les Rouge et Noir (The Red and Blacks)
Founded1908; 116 years ago (1908)
LocationToulon, France
Ground(s)Stade Mayol (Capacity: 17,500)
ChairmanBernard Lemaître
Coach(es)Pierre Mignoni
Captain(s)Charles Ollivon
Baptiste Serin
Top scorerJonny Wilkinson (1,884)
League(s)Top 14
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Founded in 1908, Toulon is one of the most important and widely supported rugby clubs in France. Domestically, the club has won a total of four league titles, two Pro D2 titles and two Challenge Yves du Manoir. In international competitions, Toulon is the only one to have won the Heineken Cup/European Rugby Champions Cup three times in a row, and succeeded in winning the league/European cup double in 2014 too. Toulon has also won the EPCR Challenge Cup in 2023 after reaching the final on four occasions. The club established itself as a major force in domestic and European rugby in the 2010s when Jonny Wilkinson, Mathieu Bastareaud, Bakkies Botha, Matt Giteau and other rugby stars played at Mayol under Bernard Laporte's management.

A club renowned for its fans fervour and its stadium atmosphere, Toulon has rivalries with Toulouse and Clermont and has traditionally worn a red and black home kit since its inception. The club's crest features a sprig of lily of the valley, symbol of the club's benefactor and Belle Époque singer Félix Mayol who used to wear one on his jacket. A few times per season, important matches against major teams are played at the 67,394-capacity Stade Vélodrome located in Marseille 50 kilometres (31 mi) away.

History edit

Rugby Club Toulonnais was founded on 3 June 1908 as a merger of Étoile Sportive Varoise and members of the Stade Varois, a club based in nearby La Seyne-sur-Mer. It took the club 23 years to reach the top of French rugby, when they won the 1931 championship against Lyon Olympique Universitaire (6–3, 2 tries to 1). The players were greeted by 30,000 people when they returned from Bordeaux, where the final had been held.

Toulon remained one of the top French clubs, but they lost four finals scattered over 35 years (1948, 1968, 1971 and 1985). The 1985 extra-time defeat by Stade Toulousain left them with many regrets, and playing a spectacular final (36–22) did nothing to alleviate the pain of losing. The Red and Black waited only two more years to finally lay their hands on the Bouclier de Brennus, as they defeated Racing at the Parc des Princes. The third title came in 1992, against Biarritz Olympique, in Serge Blanco's last match and last chance to win the title.

For eight years, Toulon were not particularly successful and were in heavy financial trouble (a 10 million franc deficit) forced the Ligue Nationale de Rugby to demote them to the Second Division in July 2000. The club missed an immediate return the next year, going down in the final to Montauban, as only one club was promoted that year. It took them five more years to do so as Toulon went on to win the Pro D2 title. But despite immense popular support (gates averaged more than 12,000), and much enthusiasm, they managed to win only three games out of 26 and were relegated after only a season.

Toulon signs star players edit

A new president, Mourad Boudjellal, a Toulonnais who made his fortune in the comic strip business, promised to build a huge team. He said: "I invented the Top 15, with a team that could be competitive in the Top 14".[1] He signed a high number of first-class players, some of them well above 30, like Jean-Jacques Crenca, Yann Delaigue, Gonzalo Quesada and Dan Luger. He created buzz around the team as he managed to sign former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, who arrived in Toulon right after the end of the Air New Zealand Cup on 26 October 2006. The contract was rumoured to be around €300,000 (£200,000), which Boudjellal claimed to pay from his own pocket, for only eight to ten matches. In a 2010 interview, Boudjellal would say about his decision to pursue Umaga, "It was incredible, because we were in the second division and I was speaking with the best player in the world. But he said yes and came to play with Toulon."[2]

Boudjellal continued to sign high-profile veteran players, including Australia captain and former all-time international caps leader George Gregan, reportedly paid €400,000 out of Boudjellal's pocket,[3] All Blacks' former all-time scoring leader Andrew Mehrtens,[4][5] and Jonny Wilkinson.

Back in Pro D2 for the 2006–07 season, Toulon finish fourth in the league, putting them in the promotion playoffs for a place in the Top 14, but they lost in the promotion semi-finals 21–17 at La Rochelle. The following season Toulon headed the table from early on, never dropping from the top spot on their way to clinching promotion with two rounds to spare. The 2008–09 season proved to be one of consolidation. Umaga had been handed the coaching reins, but as Boudjellal would later say, "The first season in the Top 14 was very difficult and I learned that Tana Umaga was not yet ready to give up playing – and that he's not a manager."[2] The team managed to survive that season, using a late-season surge to avoid a relegation scare. Toulon had a much more successful 2009–10 campaign, with Wilkinson leading the charge. He would be named the top fly-half of the year in France by leading rugby publication Midi Olympique,[6] and would also be recalled to the England national team. Domestically, Toulon finished second on the league table, losing out to Perpignan for the top spot on a tiebreaker. This finish gave them a spot in the 2010–11 Heineken Cup, and also a first-round bye in that season's Top 14 playoffs. Toulon's domestic campaign ended in the semi-finals with a 35–29 extra-time loss to eventual champion Clermont in Saint-Étienne.

Toulon's 2009–10 Challenge Cup campaign proved more successful. They finished top of their pool and advanced to the knockout stage, crushing Scarlets 38–12 in the quarterfinals and surviving a hard-fought match against Connacht 19–12. Toulon got their preferred final venue of the Vélodrome on 23 May, where they lost to the Cardiff Blues 28–21, missing out on silverware for the season.

In May 2013 Toulon won the 2013 Heineken Cup Final by 16–15 against Clermont Auvergne.[7]

Emblem edit

On the day of his arrival in Paris, on 1 May 1895, just before his first concert, Félix Mayol was met by a female friend at the station, who gave him some lily-of-the-valley, a flower people traditionally exchange on 1 May in France. He pinned it on his lapel, his concert was a success and Mayol, who was superstitious, made the lily-of-the-valley his personal emblem. It was taken up by the rugby club in 1921.

Stadium edit

In 1920, its stadium was inaugurated. It is named after Félix Mayol, a very popular concert hall singer from Toulon who had succeeded in Paris in the early 20th century. Shortly after World War I, he purchased what would be the stadium site and donated it to the club. It is one of the few French stadiums to be almost completely surrounded by the city and overlooks the Toulon bay and military harbour in the Mediterranean.

Charity cross-code matches edit

The club has played in cross-code charity matches with a half each of rugby union and football. On July 18, 2013, they played Olympique de Marseille in the first ever match of the kind at the Stade Mayol to benefit a local charity with Marc Lièvremont and Eric Cantona as the referees in either half, with Olympique de Marseille winning 36–35.[8][9]

Two years later, the club played another such match to benefit a local children's charity at the Stade Mayol against France 98, the charity association team composed of France's 1998 FIFA World Cup winners, and won 33–26. Bernard Laporte served as one of the referees.[10]

Honours edit

Finals results edit

Heineken Cup and European Rugby Champions Cup edit

Date Winners Score Runners-up Venue Spectators
18 May 2013 RC Toulon 16–15 ASM Clermont Auvergne Aviva Stadium, Dublin 50,148
24 May 2014 RC Toulon 23–6 Saracens Millennium Stadium, Cardiff 67,578
2 May 2015 RC Toulon 24–18 ASM Clermont Auvergne Twickenham, London 56,662

French championship edit

Date Winners Score Runners-up Venue Spectators
10 May 1931 RC Toulon 6–3 Lyon OU Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 10,000
18 April 1948 FC Lourdes 11–3 RC Toulon Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 29,753
16 June 1968 FC Lourdes 9–9 (aet) RC Toulon Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 28,526
16 May 1971 Béziers 15–9 (aet) RC Toulon Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 27,737
25 May 1985 Toulouse 36–22 (aet) RC Toulon Parc des Princes, Paris 37,000
22 May 1987 RC Toulon 15–12 Racing Club Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
27 May 1989 Toulouse 18–12 RC Toulon Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
6 June 1992 RC Toulon 19–14 Biarritz Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
9 June 2012 Toulouse 18–12 RC Toulon Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,614
1 June 2013 Castres 19–14 RC Toulon Stade de France, Saint-Denis 80,033
31 May 2014 RC Toulon 18–10 Castres Olympique Stade de France, Saint-Denis 80,174
24 June 2016 Racing 92 29–21 RC Toulon Camp Nou, Barcelona 99,124
4 June 2017 Clermont 22–16 RC Toulon Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,771

Challenge Yves du Manoir edit

Date Winners Score Runners-up Venue Spectators
18 March 1934 Stade Toulousain
RC Toulon
0–0 (tied, joint winners) Stade des Iris, Villeurbanne
11 December 1939 Section Paloise 5–0 RC Toulon Parc Lescure, Bordeaux
30 May 1954 FC Lourdes 28–12 RC Toulon Stade Mayol, Toulon
23 May 1970 RC Toulon 25–22 SU Agen Stade Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes
4 June 1983 SU Agen 29–7 RC Toulon Parc des Princes, Paris 5,083

European Challenge Cup edit

Date Winners Score Runners-up Venue Spectators
23 May 2010 Cardiff Blues 28–21 RC Toulon Stade Vélodrome, Marseille 48,990
18 May 2012 Biarritz 21–18 RC Toulon The Stoop, London 9,376
16 October 2020 Bristol Bears 32–19 RC Toulon Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence 1,000
27 May 2022 LOU Rugby 30-12 RC Toulon Stade Orange Vélodrome, Marseille 51,431
19 May 2023 RC Toulon 43-19 Glasgow Warriors Aviva Stadium, Dublin 31,514

Current standings edit

2023–24 Top 14 Table
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Diff. Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1 Racing 12 8 0 4 352 223 +129 4 4 40
2 Bordeaux Bègles 12 8 0 4 330 263 +67 2 2 36
3 Stade Français 12 7 1 4 238 199 +39 2 1 33
4 Toulouse 12 7 0 5 297 243 +54 3 1 32
5 Toulon 12 7 0 5 305 238 +67 2 2 32
6 Pau 12 7 0 5 268 246 +22 2 1 31
7 Castres 12 6 0 6 309 281 +28 3 3 30
8 La Rochelle 12 6 0 6 260 217 +43 2 4 30
9 Clermont 12 5 1 6 274 287 –13 2 2 26
10 Bayonne 12 5 0 7 243 290 -47 1 3 24
11 Perpignan 12 5 0 7 246 362 –116 1 0 21
12 Oyonnax 12 5 0 7 255 345 -90 0 0 20
13 Lyon 12 4 0 8 250 375 –125 2 2 20
14 Montpellier 12 3 0 9 225 283 –58 0 4 16

If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:

  1. Competition points earned in head-to-head matches
  2. Points difference in head-to-head matches
  3. Try differential in head-to-head matches
  4. Points difference in all matches
  5. Try differential in all matches
  6. Points scored in all matches
  7. Tries scored in all matches
  8. Fewer matches forfeited
  9. Classification in the previous Top 14 season
Green background (rows 1 and 2) receive semi-final play-off places and receive berths in the 2024–25 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background (rows 3 to 6) receive quarter-final play-off places, and receive berths in the Champions Cup.
Plain background indicates teams that earn a place in the 2024–25 European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Pink background (row 13) will be contest a play-off with the runners-up of the 2023–24 Rugby Pro D2 season for a place in the 2024–25 Top 14 season.
Red background (row 14) will be relegated to Rugby Pro D2.
Updated: 7 January 2024

Current squad edit

The Toulon squad for the 2023–24 season is:[11] [12][a]

Note: Flags indicate national union under World Rugby eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-World Rugby nationality.

Player Position Union
Teddy Baubigny Hooker   France
Yanis Boulassel Hooker   France
Anthony Étrillard Hooker   France
Jack Singleton [a] Hooker   England
Kieran Brookes Prop   England
Bruce Devaux Prop   France
Beka Gigashvili Prop   Georgia
Jean-Baptiste Gros Prop   France
Dany Priso Prop   France
Emerick Setiano Prop   France
Brian Alainu'uese Lock   Samoa
Matthias Halagahu Lock   France
Swan Rebbadj Lock   France
David Ribbans Lock   England
Adrien Warion Lock   France
Esteban Abadie Back row   France
Jules Coulon Back row   France
Facundo Isa Back row   Argentina
Matteo Le Corvec Back row   France
Charles Ollivon Back row   France
Cornell du Preez Back row   Scotland
Selevasio Tolofua Back row   France
Yannick Youyoutte Back row   France
Player Position Union
Jules Danglot Scrum-half   France
Vasil Lobzhanidze Scrum-half   Georgia
Baptiste Serin Scrum-half   France
Ben White Scrum-half   Scotland
Dan Biggar Fly-half   Wales
Paolo Garbisi Fly-half   Italy
Enzo Hervé Fly-half   France
Mathieu Smaili Fly-half   France
Waisea Nayacalevu Centre   Fiji
Duncan Paia'aua Centre   Samoa
Maëlan Rabut Centre   France
Rayan Rebbadj Centre   France
Jérémy Sinzelle Centre   France
Setariki Tuicuvu Centre   Fiji
Gaël Dréan Wing   France
Leicester Fainga'anuku Wing   New Zealand
Gabin Villière Wing   France
Jiuta Wainiqolo Wing   Fiji
Melvyn Jaminet Fullback   France
Aymeric Luc Fullback   France
  1. ^ a b Jack Singleton is on loan for the whole 2023-24 season from Gloucester.[13]

Espoirs squad edit

Note: Flags indicate national union under World Rugby eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-World Rugby nationality.

Player Position Union
Pierre Damond Hooker   France
Leo Ametlla Prop   France
Lohann Gil Prop   France
Samuel Jean-Christophe Prop   France
Davit Mcheddlidze Prop   Georgia
Owen Sorhaindo Prop   France
Mateo Tornel-Rodriguez Prop   France
Yanis Trabelsi Prop   France
Thomas Adelaide Lock   France
Julien Godel Lock   France
Corentin Mezou Lock   France
Fabio Zingone Lock   France
Logan Dubois Back row   France
Marc Essoh Back row   France
Joe Quere Karaba Back row   France
Edouard Sabotin-Desclaud Back row   France
Player Position Union
Wendemi Viellard Scrum-half   France
Nathan Azais Fly-half   France
Thibaut Andral Centre   France
Oliver Cowie Centre   France
Louis Morland Centre   France
Karsen Talalua Centre   France
Esteban Morvan Wing   France
Ulysse Justand-Mercier Wing   France
Alberto Carmona Fullback   Spain
Marius Domon Fullback   France
Barnabe Mechentel Fullback   France

Notable former players edit

This is a list of former players in alphabetical order showing nationality and the period played for the club.

French edit

International edit

See also edit

Notes edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Umaga, l'incroyable transfert". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2006.
  2. ^ a b Jenkins, Graham (11 August 2010). "Toulon still dreaming big". ESPNScrum. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Gregan puts pen to paper with Toulon". 22 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  4. ^ "Mehrtens agrees to Toulon switch". BBC. 23 May 2007.
  5. ^ "Rugby: Mehrtens signs for Toulon". The New Zealand Herald. 24 May 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2007.
  6. ^ Jenkins, Graham (5 August 2010). "Wilkinson hints at Toulon stay". ESPNScrum. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Toulon claim Heineken Cup glory". ESPN. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Marseille play Toulon in unusual half football half rugby charity match". Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  9. ^ BeIN Sports. "Match Caritatif Foot/Rugby RC Toulon - Olympique de Marseille [Match Entier]" [RC Toulon - Olympique de Marseille Football/Rugby Charity Match (Full Match)]. YouTube (in French).
  10. ^ Wright, Chris (30 July 2015). "Zinedine Zidane scores immense try in strange football/rugby hybrid match". ESPN UK. ESPN. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  11. ^ "Effectif" (in French). RC Toulon. 17 January 2024. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Toulon squad for season 2023/2024". 17 January 2024. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  13. ^ "Gloucester hooker Singleton joins Toulon on loan". BBC Sport. 29 November 2023. Retrieved 29 November 2023.

External links edit