TIt makes the bottom of the Super League table an unfortunate read for those of us who were hoping Toulouse Olympique would survive or even succeed this season. But we should look to 2024: that’s when Toulouse must rush to a seat at the top table, ready to take their place once any new format for the tournament is confirmed.
With just two wins from their first 15 games in the Super League, you could assume that Toulouse are already down. That is not to say, although their fate is likely to be decided in July. Even if they lose at Wigan on Friday night, they will only be six points ahead going into their next home game against Hull KR. Then have follow – up meetings with three of the four teams just above them: Wakefield at the Magic weekend, and Leeds and Salford at home.
Toulouse could win three of those and be happy with the subsequent trips to Hull KR and Warrington. The club hopes the local community will be behind them in times of need – fans can buy tickets to all four home games in July for € 25 – knowing they need a win now that they are facing Wigan, Catalans and St Helens who are in pursuit of the title. , in the final four games of the campaign.
Coach Sylain Houles is making the right noise: yes, it was difficult but, no, we did not give up. Even if they finish at the bottom, the perceptual Houles will have made a great achievement: their Toulouse teams will be higher up the RFL ladder in each of their nine seasons in charge. Few coaches in world sport can say that. Toulouse will certainly be making inquiries for the 40 – year – old if they are deported.
His season could easily be so different. If Toulouse had won rather than lost in a gasp final setback against Wigan and Huddersfield, or beat one of their relegation rivals other than St Helens by a few points, they would have only one win adrift, not by.
Obviously they have not won many games, but they are not struggling every week. They have a points difference of just -11.9 per game, and eight of 13 wins were 12 points or less. If they managed to score one more try and surrender one less, their season would change.
Another problem is that they have a climax against the finals of the tournament, rather than their opponents. They pushed Wigan, Catalans and Huddersfield all the way but none of their five narrowest victories against the four teams are yet (just) within reach. It would not help the prospect of survival by pushing the best sides while being comfortably pushed by those around you.
A holiday in the west of France last week with Stormy Sixties was a natural time to read Roger Grime’s book about the French national rugby league team in a decade in which France played 50 internationals. They won half of their 20 games against Great Britain, won Australia three times, and their home game was drawn enough to be top-flight clubs in St-Étienne, Roanne and Mulhouse on the German border.
But media coverage of the 14 best games of French unity was a source of concern for British league fans: Perpignan fans invading the pitch striking Catalan flags after staying upright; 18,000 at the Stade Ernest Wallon a few hours after 3,300 saw Castle Wexford TO there; 27,000 inside Bordeaux’s historic Stade du Parc Lescure, the site of so many magical rugby league matches, including France won by Australia in 1963; clubs from league rugby land on Tarn and Provence on television for prime time and on the front page of the daily sport of L’Équipe and the Dragons’ latest victory was just two sentences, one over Toulouse and one. photo of Matty Russell. It was hard not to be jealous.
Due to the presence of at least Toulouse Olympique, a dozen other French players are getting a Super League experience. That would not help much when France face England and Samoa in the World Cup, but their federation is aiming for a successful 2025 at home and, after losing the last six World Cup games, the people in charge that they beat Greece. October would begin their recovery. The way in which France can fare in the next few years will have a significant impact on the IRL’s pre – World Cup in 2025, for which they automatically qualify as hosts.
Wales started beating 34-10 on Sunday. While there were a dozen Dragons on the French side, only two Toulouse players started, and two more on the bench. There is a problem with a national team with players from two clubs: look at Italy and Scotland in rugby. In Stormy Sixties, Grime writes: “There was too much demand for a shortage of top players.” That is as true now as it was then. At least with Toulouse in the Super League, the number of full – time talent is expanding, though perhaps only until September.
However, it is still rare for a domestic player to select the Dragons or Olympians over any of their overseas imports, especially in creative positions. With the Dragons slamming England captain Sam Tomkins as Australia’s full-back and highly effective midfielder Josh Drinkwater and Mitchell Pearce (and formerly James Maloney), the talented Arthur Mourgue must fill in wherever he can. For a while this spring, Toulouse had such injury problems, Houles seemed to be picking his half – back pair by picking names out of a hat. Now it’s settled on Lucas Albert alongside NRL veteran Corey Norman, and Tony Gigot in his prime.
Despite Huddersfield’s Theo Fages injury, French coach Laurent Frayssinous and director Trent Robinson selected teenager Cesar Rouge, rather than Albert, on Sunday to join his 23 – year – old teammate Mourgue. And with little chance for the Dragons, Rouge’s next game will be on loan to Whitehaven on Sunday. Frayssinous and Robinson are clearly looking to the future by ignoring three 31 – year – old international players (Gigot, Stan Robin and Dane Chisholm). When Mourgue made a worse ankle injury on Sunday, goalkeeper Morgan Escare went into the half.
Salford Escare’s guardian was the only English player on the French team, a role played by Jerome Guissett on another June roast day in Albi 22 years ago, when Houles and Frayssinous added the 56 points. France on the Irish team that was captained by his hot and worried Barrie McDermott. The rest of that team came from France from eight French clubs, as it did when France beat Wales in 1963 and 1969.
Being in the Super League is not Toulouse’s problem for the entire French rugby league. It would be a good thing to be noticed by the French sports community, as only two Olympic games have been shown on live television so far. But its presence offers a huge opportunity for the code.
If they go down this autumn, Toulouse must keep their nerve. Leigh is likely to replace them, meaning Toulouse is likely to face competition primarily from Featherstone for promotion in 2023. By then the format of the elite tournament may be about to change.
The Super League needs a second French club if IMG’s new partners have any hope of capitalizing on the Catalans’ success for the benefit of the whole game. Houles has said that over and over again. But whether or not completion will increase, Toulouse know they have the best chance of an immediate return.
World Cup Watch
Wales could be delighted with their display as they galled Albi last Sunday, with six starters. Without Regan Grace and Gil Dudson, Salford goalkeeper Rhys Williams was John Kear’s only regular Super League.
By the end of this weekend, only Australia, Greece, Ireland and Italy of the 16 men’s teams at this year’s World Cup will remain unplayed since November 2019. Italy has confirmed a new world-class management team however, for the World Cup. : head coach Leo Epifania – one – time York leader – will be joined by World Cup – winning coach Tim Sheens as technical director, former Hull FC lock Tony Grimaldi on strength and conditioning, former dual international Terry Campese as coach assistant, and Tas Baitieri as team manager.
One more thing
Pia Donkeys’ golden point victory over Baho in the Elite 2 final, nearly 3,000 watched the Brute, was reported in the yellow pages of the French rugby biennial Midi-Olympique bible. Pia must now confirm that they are ready to be the 10th team in Elite 1, after the tournament took place with only nine games last season following the obsolescence of the Palau Broncos. While some Catalan village club may have some ridicule going into the main flight, Pia is a four-time national champion, the last time just a decade ago, soon after which took years to sign significant overseas imports impossibly with them finally and they went belly up. up. Their return should be welcomed.
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