Toulousers

What has happened to Toulouse? We were watching their opening Top14 game (on the 17th of August! … A whole other debate needed there) and were struck with how … shit … they were.

Toulouse have historically been associated with vibrant rugby, the embodiment of what is good about French rugby – local passion, youth-oriented ambitions, ferocity upfront coupled with inventiveness with ball in hand.

The team they put out consisted of a foreign front row, a backrow and three quarter line with a huge amount of mileage and Pacific bosh merchants off the bench, all piloted by the poor man’s Morné Steyn, Lionel Beauxis. Granted, they won with a late try from Matavanou, but the game itself was an abomination – bad tempered, boring, and essentially boiling down to a penalty contest.

These were/are two of the best four teams in France, and if that is the case, you have got to worry about French rugby. Toulouse won the *puts on Gerry’s French accent* Bouclier de Brennus last season, but the play-off series was woeful – it was a kicking contest which Wilko almost swung for Toulon. The semi-finals and final produced not a single try between them.  By contrast, the Aviva Premiership and the much maligned Pro12 produced thrilling finals. Its hard to imagine any French team earning a try-scoring bonus point 6 games in a row, like Leicester did last year – the Top14 deserves much more Oooooooooohh-ppobrium than the Premiership.

In Europe it’s been no great shakes either.  Toulouse were beaten by Embra in last season’s HEC quarters (after getting hammered by Gloucester and losing at home to Quins), and only Clermont joined them at that stage. The Amlin turned into a Top14 second tier playoff contest, but the final was another mindless boot contest.

Clermont stand alone as an exciting and vibrant side, and are worth watching, but Toulouse are becoming Toulon with a better PR department. You have to be concerned about the future of French rugby when so many of the top level clubs play such a desperate brand of rugby, so far away from the (admittedly self-professed) traditions of the game in France. Even Toulouse, the self-appointed guardians of le rugby, resort to utter dross. And we haven’t even mentioned the winter months when the grounds turn into puddings and the league turns into a Scrum & Drop Goal Competition.  Sigh – perhaps we expect too much!

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11 Comments

  1. P White

     /  August 23, 2012

    Swang?

  2. KeithEarlsisnota13

     /  August 24, 2012

    Ah here a bit harsh,its early days yet,they are bedding in new signings.Considering how short their preseason is the first few weeks will invariably throw up turgid muck such as this.
    Tolouse have a monstrous tight 5,a solid backrow a good 9,true Beauxis is awful(but Doussin and McAllister will fill in if Noves gets his act together),but they have a tasty midfield and their three has more spark then most teams,(I include all the Irish provinces but Leinster in that category).
    I mean a McAllister/Fritz combination if it clicks is very very good,I’d wager it would be better then the myriad of the Irish provincial midfield combinations if Drico is taken out of the equation.

    • Our musings are based not just on this one game, but watching Toulouse last season. They occasionally spark into life, but for the most part they were pretty dull, along with most of the rest of the Top 14. For all the hero-worship of their brilliance in the commentary boxes, they are masters of doing just enough to get by.

      • KeithEarlsisnota13

         /  August 26, 2012


        The day Munster string phases like this (without cheating as they did against Northampton) is the day I’d write them off.Also did you see the monster Maka they have at 8? We should extend some visas to more Pacific Islanders get some of those genetics into the Irish rugby tema!

        • Yes – that kind of offloading and space creation is what we prefer! Good link.

          PS we are clamping down on provincial sniping this season – any future Munster-baiting will result in deletions, even if its a relevant as this. Also, any chance of a less incendiary handle? Ta! 🙂

  3. radge fan

     /  August 25, 2012

    Toulouse’s season was disrupted by the late return of their players from the last season – Dusautoir’s first game for Toulouse last season was the game against Connacht in Galway in the Heineken Cup – about 3 weeks after he played in the world cup final for example.

    • Number of players who played in RWC final and that game against Castres: 2 (Dusautoir, Clerc)

      • radge fan

         /  August 26, 2012

        I counted 9 Toulouse players in the French Rugby world cup squad who would have arrived back about 3 weeks after the Ireland team for instance. Toulouse had 5 starters in the final – bound to be a bit of a hangover for them anyway – so near, yet so far.

        Now, I’d love to claim that I thought this up myself, but I remembe Noves saying it was a very difficult year for them because of this.

  4. radge fan

     /  August 25, 2012

    First sentence should read “Toulouse’s season was disrupted by the late return of their players from the World Cup – ” sorry!

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