Top 14: Toulouse-Toulon, heavyweight match in red and black before the holidays

The 19,000 spectators at the Stade Ernest-Wallon will witness, Saturday December 23, a classic of the 100% Red and Black French championship, the outcome of which is particularly uncertain

Top 14: Toulouse-Toulon, heavyweight match in red and black before the holidays

The 19,000 spectators at the Stade Ernest-Wallon will witness, Saturday December 23, a classic of the 100% Red and Black French championship, the outcome of which is particularly uncertain. The dynamics of Stade Toulouse and Rugby Club Toulon, in fact, were reversed during the European window of the last two weekends.

After having had four successes in the league, Toulon (2nd, 28 points) lost their first two Champions Cup matches – and a little of their confidence. Sparkling since the resumption of the championship after the World Cup, his scrum half Baptiste Serin, injured in a shoulder on December 9 against Exeter, will be absent for four months.

On alternating current since the end of a World Cup having greatly diminished it – due to the numerous internationals in its squad – the French champion from Toulouse (6th, 23 points) has regained its splendor by scoring almost 100 points in two continental matches, against Cardiff (52-7), then against Harlequins (47-19).

“You shouldn’t take yourself for others either. The Top 14 and the European Cup are two completely different things,” warned Toulouse center Sofiane Guitoune, interviewed by Agence-France-Presse (AFP). “In any case, we are keen to have a big match at the Stadium before the holidays with our families.”

Close ties

Between Toulon and Toulouse, the story goes back a long way. When it was created in 1908, RC Toulon adopted its red and black colors to match those of its sponsor club…. the Toulouse Stadium. The links between the two clubs are close, despite a pronounced rivalry between the stronghold of the South-West and that of the South-East since the final of the 1985 French championship, won after extra time by Toulouse (36-22).

The years 2000-2010, marked by frequent relocations of the poster to the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, also fueled it, against a backdrop of different approaches between the Toulouse team and the stacking of foreign stars at Mourad Boudjellal's RCT.

Like Yann Delaigue, Christophe Deylaud, Christian Califano, Patrice Collazo, Frédéric Michalak, Vincent Clerc, Yoann Maestri, Alexis Palisson and Maxime Mermoz have worn both jerseys during their careers. Arriving in Toulouse in the off-season, Selevasio Tolofua could also start this Saturday in the third row against his former team.

“These are two cities for which rugby is a religion, with a strong history in this sport,” former fly-half Yann Delaigue, born in Toulon and crowned French champion with both clubs, told AFP. Everyone has very strong, but different, DNA. (…) The Toulouse people play on the move, the Toulonnais more in the fight”.

In recent years, the two clubs have animated the transfer market – something uncommon in Ovalie. In the summer of 2021, Cheslin Kolbe, star winger of the Springboks, left the Pink City to join the harbor, while he was still engaged for two years with Toulouse, in exchange for a substantial transfer fee.

Jaminet absent, return of Marchand

This season, barely a month after the end of the World Cup, RC Toulon formalized the signing of Melvyn Jaminet, who only stayed one season in Toulouse, most often helmed by Thomas Ramos and the Italian Angel Capuozzo. The French international full-back has therefore joined his training club since November 27, but he will not play this evening, an oral agreement having been made between the two clubs.

“There is no clause [in his contract], but for the interest of everyone, we have agreed together that Melvyn will not play this match,” explained Pierre Mignoni, CR Toulon coach .

On the other hand, international hooker Julien Marchand will finally return to the field, of which he has been deprived for three and a half months. The Toulouse player has not played again since his left hamstring muscle injury contracted on September 8 during the opening match of the World Cup against New Zealand (27-13). Saturday evening, he will be on the bench against Toulon, ready to replace Peato Mauvaka.