Toulouse Olympique or TO XIII is a professional rugby league club in Toulouse, south-west France. Founded in 1937, two years after the French Rugby League Federation, the club is a six-time winner of the French Rugby League Championship.
|Full name||Toulouse Olympique XIII|
|Super League XXVII||12th (relegated)|
The club played in the Rugby Football League's Championship competition in 2009, 2010 and 2011. It left the English structure at the end of the 2011 season and instead focused on the Elite One Championship from 2011/12 season. In 2016 Olympique again joined the RFL system, this time in League 1, the third tier of English rugby league, being promoted to the Championship at the end of that season. In 2012, Toulouse acquired fellow Toulouse side, Toulouse Jules-Julien Broncos XIII to act as their reserve side in Elite 2. The side was re-branded as Toulouse Olympique Broncos and moved up to Elite 1 when Olympique re-joined the English competition.
The club's historic stadium is the stade des Minimes (also known as the stade Arnauné). But following the failure (due to opposition from the neighbourhood) of an expansion project that was to increase the stadium’s capacity to 10,000 seats, in 2020 the club reached an agreement with rugby union club Stade Toulousain to use the stade Ernest Wallon for the home matches of its professional team.
On 15 April 2021 Didier Lacroix, President of Stade Toulousain rugby union club and Bernard Sarrazain, President of Toulouse Olympique signed an agreement for Toulouse Olympique to play home games at the Stade Ernest-Wallon until the end of the 2029 season.
Toulouse hosted the first ever French rugby league Lord Derby Cup final in 1935 when Lyon Villeurbanne beat XIII Catalan at the Stade des Minimes. The first rugby league club in the city were Gallia de Toulouse who started the 1935–36 season but lasted only two matches before dropping down to the amateur level of the newly introduced sport. Toulouse Olympique were formed in 1937 by Jean Galia and played their first league match on 24 October 1937 losing 14–44 at home against RC Albi at their new home the Arnaune Stadium now called the Stade des Minimes. The club finished 8th in that debut season under coach Jean Galia. In their second season, 1938–39, they reached the cup final losing 3–7 against XIII Catalan and finished 5th in the league. The club's last match before the war was against Villefranche de Lauragais winning 62–5. During the war years, like other rugby league clubs in France, the club were forced to play rugby union following the ban on rugby league by the Vichy regime in France.
In 1944, Toulouse reached the semi-final of the French Cup in rugby union. In the meantime the Arnauné stadium was confiscated by the State, like most of the assets of the French Federation of rugby league. Following liberation by the Allies and the restoration of the French Championship, the club were on the losing side twice when they met Carcassonne in the finals for the 1944–45 and 1945–46 competitions. After two decades away from the top, another strong team emerged that included Pierre Lacaze and under coach Georges Ailleres having finished runner-up in the league in 1963–64, they then lifted their first league title the following season beating US Villeneuve in the final 47–15. During the 1960s they also reached four cup finals but lost them all, 1962 against RC Roanne XIII 10–16, 1963 against AS Carcassonne 0–5, 1964 against US Villeneuve 2–10 and 1968 against AS Carcassonne 2–9. During the early 70s they lifted two more league titles, in season 1972–73 they beat Marseille XIII 18–0 and in 1974–75 they beat AS Saint Esteve 10–9. Their 1976 cup final defeat by XIII Catalan 8–23 would be their last final appearance in either league or cup until the new millennium.
Before that in 1995 the club changed their name to Toulouse Spacers due to their link up with the local aerospace company in the town, keeping this name until 2002.
2000–08: End of trophy drought and Super League ambitionsEdit
In 2000 the club ended their long silverware drought when they won the championship title with a 20–18 victory over AS Saint Esteve and the following season reached the final again but lost out 32–20 against Villeneuve Leopards. Toulouse's ambition to join the Super League grew but in 2003, despite a stadium upgrade, youth development and becoming a limited company, their application was rejected by the Rugby Football League in favour of Catalans Dragons. After reverting to Toulouse Olympique the club reached two more league championship finals but lost both. In 2004–05 they were convincingly beaten by Union Treiziste Catalane 16-66 and the following season they lost again this time 18–21 against Pia XIII. In 2005 Toulouse became the first French club ever to reach the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, after defeating Super League side Widnes Vikings 40–24 in the quarter finals. They went on to lose 56–18 to world champions Leeds Rhinos in the semi-final at the Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield.
2009–10: Entry to British league systemEdit
In 2006, the Rugby Football League decided to introduce licensing for the 2009 Super League season, with the number of Super League clubs being increased from 12 to 14. Toulouse were one of the applicants but failed to win a licence, losing out to the 12 existing Super League clubs, Salford and the Crusaders. After the announcement however, the Rugby Football League invited Toulouse to enter the second tier Championship for the 2009 season, with a view to applying in the next round of franchising to be accepted to Super League in 2012. Offering no direct route to Super League at the time, Toulouse's spell in the Championship lasted three seasons.
In their first campaign, 2009, the season was acclaimed a success with them winning 9 games which included a record 5 match winning run this despite being beaten heavily on the opening round of matches live on television at Widnes Vikings 0–70. The second season saw improvement but at the end of 2010 it was announced that the club would be withdrawing from the Championship and returning to the French league from the 2012 season onwards.
2011–15: Return to FranceEdit
Toulouse returned to the French Elite One Championship in 2011. They failed to make the Grand Final in the 2011–12 and 2012–13 season. However they the double in the following season, 2013–14, winning 38–12 against Lézignan Sangliers in the Grand Final and beating AS Carcassonne 46–10 in the final of the final of the Lord Derby Cup. This marked their first ever cup win in their then 77 year history. They then retained their league title when beating AS Carcassonne 20–12 in the 2014–15 Grand Final.
2016–present: Re-entry to British leaguesEdit
In 2015, it was announced that Toulouse Olympique would return to the British rugby league system after they were accepted to play in League 1 from the 2016 season. A Toulouse presence would remain in the French Elite One Championship when Toulouse Broncos who were in the 2nd tier were taken over by Olympique and renamed Toulouse Olympique Broncos.
Toulouse finished the 2017 season with 15 wins and 8 loses from 23 games, finishing fifth in the league, missing out on the Super 8s by one place. Toulouse therefore entered the Championship Shield, winning it by beating Sheffield Eagles 44–14 in the final. l
The 2021 season was Olympique's first full season after the 2020 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and final standings was based on win percentage as a COVID-19 precaution. Toulouse finished top of the table with 14 wins from 14 matches, winning the Championship Leaders' Shield. This comprised 13 matches played in England and a forfeited match when London Broncos failed to travel as required to Toulouse. Finishing top of the table, gave Toulouse home advantage in the semi-final, where they beat Batley 51–12. This pitted them against Featherstone in the Million Pound Game the following week, which saw them win 34–12 thus earn promotion to the Super League for the first time.
In August, Toulouse announced a new partnership with French club Gratentour XIII who would join Elite 2 for the 2021/22 season, and act as a feeder club. Toulouse Olympique made their debut in the Super League at home to Huddersfield. They raced out to a 10-0 lead but were defeated 42-14. On 19 March 2022, Toulouse recorded their first victory in the Super League, causing one of the competition's greatest upsets defeating three-time defending champions St Helens 22-20. In round 18 of the 2022 Super League season, the club earned their first win in the Super League on English soil defeating Wakefield Trinity 38-26 at Magic Weekend. In round 25 of the 2022 Super League season, Toulouse Olympique were officially relegated back to the Championship after losing to Catalans Dragons in the French Derby 24-14.
|First team squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 26 September 2022
|James Cunningham||Huddersfield Giants||2 Years||October 2021|||
|Gadwin Springer||Featherstone Rovers||1 Year||November 2021|||
|Matty Russell||Leigh Centurions||1 Year||November 2021|||
|Chris Hankinson||Wigan Warriors||2 Years||November 2021|||
|Lambert Belmas||FC Lézignan XIII||1 Year||November 2021|||
|Lambert Belmas||FC Lézignan XIII||2 Year||June 2022|||
|Olly Ashall-Bott||Huddersfield Giants||1 Year||February 2022|||
|Corey Norman||St. George Illawarra Dragons||1 Year||April 2022|
|Daniel Alvaro||St. George Illawarra Dragons||2 Years||May 2022|
|Nathan Peats||RC Albi||N/A||May 2022|
|Bastien Ader||Limoux Grizzlies||September 2021|||
|Jy Hitchcox||Leigh Centurions||October 2021|||
|Remi Casty||Retired||October 2021|||
|Johnathon Ford||Featherstone Rovers||January 2022|||
|Mark Kheirallah||Featherstone Rovers||February 2022|
List of seasonsEdit
This section needs expansion with: seasons prior to the Elite One/Two Championship era. You can help by adding to it. (December 2020)
|Season||League||Lord Derby Cup / Challenge Cup||Top try scorer||Top points scorer|
|1937–38||French Rugby League Championship||Unknown||Unknown||?||—||Unknown|
|2003–2004||Elite One Championship||18||12||0||6||602||286||42||3rd||None Played||?|
|2004–2005||Elite One Championship||18||15||0||3||668||310||47||2nd||None Played||?||SF|
|2005–2006||Elite One Championship||20||16||0||4||830||268||52||2nd||None Played||?||R4|
|2006–2007||Elite One Championship||20||15||1||4||643||333||51||2nd||Lost in Semi Final||?||R3|
|2007–2008||Elite One Championship||20||8||0||12||353||518||36||7th||Lost in Round One||?||R4|
|Transfer to British rugby league system|
|2009||Championship||20||9||0||11||556||582||30||10th||Did not qualify||—||R3|
|2010||Championship||20||8||0||12||486||649||27||8th||Did not qualify||R4|
|2011||Championship||20||4||0||16||358||663||15||10th||Did not qualify||R3|
|Transfer to French rugby league system|
|2011–2012||Elite One Championship||18||12||0||6||442||352||42||5th||Lost in Quarter Final||?||R3|
|2012–2013||Elite One Championship||Unknown||Unknown||?||R4|
|2013–2014||Elite One Championship||Unknown||Champions||W||—|
|2014–2015||Elite One Championship||Unknown||Champions||?|
|Transfer to British rugby league system|
Grand Final – Runners-up
Play-off Final – Winners
|2017||Championship||23||15||0||8||720||466||30||5th||Championship Shield – Winners||R4|
|2018||Championship||23||16||1||6||900||438||33||3rd||Did not qualify||—|
|2019||Championship||27||20||0||7||877||446||40||2nd||Lost in Preliminary Final|
|2021||Championship||14||14||0||0||698||124||28||1st||Won in Million Pound Game|
- Winners (6): 1964–65, 1972–73, 1974–75, 1999–2000, 2013–14, 2014–15
- Runners-up (5): 1944–45, 1945–46, 1963–64, 2004–05, 2005–06
- Runners-up (1): 2016
- League Leaders:
- Winners (1): 2016
- Promotion Play-offs:
- Winners (1): 2016
- Runners-up (1): 2016
- Winners (1): 2013–14
Runners-up (5): 1938–39, 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1967–68
- Winners (1): 2013–14
- The 2020 Championship was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. Statistics shown are those at time of abandonment and are not official.
- The 2020 RFL Championship was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. Toulouse Olympique were in first place at time of abandonment.
- "Operational Rules". RFL. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- "TO reserve side Broncos in final". www.ladepeche.fr.
- "TO and Stade Toulousain sign partnership agreement". www.ffr13.fr. 15 April 2021.
- http://www.to13.com/histoire[dead link]
- "The Rugby Football League". Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
- Butcher, Tim (2009). Gillette Rugby League Yearbook 2009-2010. League Publications Ltd. pp. 85. ISBN 978-1-901347-21-0.
- "Toulouse in League One next season". BBC Sport.
- "Résumé TO XIII v Sheffield - Finale Championship Shield - 30.09.2017" – via www.youtube.com.
- "London criticise RFL over Toulouse forfeit". www.skysports.com.
- "Match report Toulouse 51 Batley 12". www.to13.com. 2 October 2021.
- "Match report Toulouse 34 Featherstone 12". BBC Sport.
- "Gratentour becomes reserve side for TO". www.to13.com. 13 August 2021.
- "Toulouse Olympique won't be easy pickings for any one in Super League, says Huddersfield Giants' Jake Wardle". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk.
- "Super League: Toulouse claim historic victory over St Helens; Wakefield Trinity defeat Warrington Wolves". www.skysports.com.
- "Saints, Toulouse and Leeds all win on Magic Weekend". www.skysports.com.
- "Toulouse Olympique officially relegated from Super League". www.loverugbyleague.com.
- "James CUNNINGHAM signe au TO". 19 October 2021.
- "Springer returns to Toulouse". www.superleague.co.uk.
- McAllister, Josh (6 November 2021). "Matty Russell makes Super League move". LoveRugbyLeague.
- Ibbetson, Stephen (9 November 2021). "Toulouse Olympique confirm signing from Wigan Warriors". www.totalrl.com.
- "Houles looking for one more signing". www.totalrl.com. 14 November 2021.
- "TO sign Lambert Belmas". www.to13.com. 1 June 2022.
- "TO sign Olly Ashall-Bott". www.to13.com. 23 February 2022.
- "Bastien ADER joins Limoux XIII-Limoux XIII Facebook site". Facebook. 20 September 2021.
- "Jy Hitchcox breaks silence on new move". www.seriousaboutrl.com. 19 October 2021.
- "Remi Casty retires after TO reach SL". www.skysports.com.
- "Johnathon Ford leaves TO". www.to13.com. 26 January 2022.
- "Toulouse clinch Championship League Leaders' Shield". LoveRugbyLeague. 8 September 2021.
- Media related to Toulouse Olympique at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website (in French)
- Toulouse Olympique forum on rlfans.com (English and French)