Toulouse Olympique 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|
The club played in the Rugby Football League's Championship competition in 2009 and 2010. It returned to the Elite One Championship in 2011, but in 2016 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.
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 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, 38/39 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 Aillères having finished runner-up in the league in 63/64, 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 72/73 they beat Marseille XIII 18-0 and in 74/75 they beat AS Saint Esteve 10-9. Their 1976 cup final defeat to 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. In 2000 the club ended their long silverware draught when they won the championship title with victory over AS Saint Esteve 20-18 and the following season reached the final again but lost out 20-32 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 Olympique became the first French club ever to reach the semi-finals of the Rugby League Challenge Cup, when they defeated Super League side Widnes Vikings 40-24. They went on to lose 56-18 to world champions Leeds Rhinos in the semi-final at the Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield.
In 2006, the Rugby Football League decided to introduce licensing for the 2009 Super League season, with the number of 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 (previously National League One) 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 and but for an end of season blip which saw the club lose their last 6 games they could have reached the end of season play-offs, beating league leaders Featherstone Rovers live on television was their best result and performance. at the end of 2011 it was announced that the club would be withdrawing from the Championship and returning to the French league from the 2012 season onwards. Toulouse returned to the French Elite One Championship in 2012. They failed to make the Championship Final in the 2012-13 season but won a league and cup double the following season, 2013/14, winning 38-12 against Lezignan Sangliers in the league and beating AS Carcassonne 46-10 in the cup. They then retained their league title when beating AS Carcassonne 20-12.
In 2015, it was announced that Toulouse Olympique would return to the English rugby league system after they were accepted to play in League 1 from the 2016 season in their second bid to be promoted into Super League. A Toulouse presence would remain in the French Elite One league when Toulouse Broncos who were in the 2nd tier were taken over by Olympique and renamed Toulouse Olympique Broncos
Toulouse went unbeaten during the League 1 2016 season but lost in the Promotion Final to Rochdale Hornets. They entered the play-offs as a result and were successful, beating Barrow Raiders to win promotion to the Championship.
* Announced on 23 January 2019:
|2019 Toulouse Olympique Squad|
|First team squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 23 January 2019
|Dean Parata||Barrow Raiders||October 2018|
|Joe Bretherton||Wigan Warriors||September 2018|
|Ilias Bergal||Leigh Centurions||October 2018|
|Jordan Dezaria||Leigh Centurions||November 2018|
|Ben Evans||London Broncos||November 2018|
|Paterika Vaivai||Leigh Centurions||December 2018|
|Brenden Santi||Townsville Blackhawks||December 2018|
|James Bell||New Zealand Warriors||December 2018|
|Sam Rapira||Retired||October 2018|
|Bastien Canet||AS Carcassonne||N/A|
|Charles Bouzinac||Lezignan Sangliers||N/A|
|Mourad Kriouache||left the club||October 2018|
- French Championship (6): 1964–65, 1972–73, 1974–75, 1999–2000, 2013–14, 2014–15
- Lord Derby Cup (1): 2013–14
- Championship Shield (1): 2017
- "Operational Rules". RFL. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2008-07-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Butcher, Tim (2009). Gillette Rugby League Yearbook 2009-2010. League Publications Ltd. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-901347-21-0.
- Butcher, Tim (2010). Gillette Rugby League Yearbook 2010-2011. League Publications Ltd. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-901347-22-7.