|Full name||Rugby Club Toulonnais|
|Ground(s)||Stade Mayol (Capacity: 15,820)|
Olivier Azam (Forwards)
Pierre Mignoni (Backs)
David Fraisse (Defense)
|2013–14||1st (playoff finalists)|
Rugby Club Toulonnais (French pronunciation: [ʁyɡbi klœb tulɔnɛ]), also known as RCT or Toulon) is a French professional rugby union club based in Toulon in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. A current participant in the first-tier Top 14 competition, they have won the national competition on four occasions.
Established in 1908, Toulon currently play their home games at the Stade Mayol, although they have begun to take high-profile matches to the 60,000-seat Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, playing one match there in 2008–09 and two in both 2009–10 and 2010–11. The club colours are red and black. Toulon were Pro D2 champions in 2005, but after finishing 14th in the 2005-06 Top 14 season, they were relegated back down. After signing a number of high-profile players, the club made a strong run at promotion in the 2006–07 season, and succeeded in their promotion quest in 2007–08, winning that season's Pro D2 crown with two rounds to spare. They struggled to avoid relegation for much of the 2008–09 Top 14 season, but a late-season surge brought them to ninth place and safety. Their 2009–10 Top 14 season was more successful, with a second-place regular-season finish and a semifinal place domestically and a runner-up finish in the 2009–10 European Challenge Cup. In 2012, they again advanced to the Challenge Cup final, losing to Biarritz, and advanced to the Top 14 final, losing to Toulouse. In May 2013 Toulon won the 2013 Heineken Cup Final by 16–15 against Clermont Auvergne, and lost the Top 14 Final against Castres in June. They retained the Heineken Cup with a 23-6 win over Saracens in May 2014.
Rugby Club Toulonnais was founded on 3 June 1908 as a merger of Étoile Sportive Varoise and members of the Stade Varois, a club based in nearby La Seyne-sur-Mer. It took the club 23 years to reach the top of French rugby, when they won the 1931 championship against Lyon Olympique Universitaire (6–3, 2 tries to 1). The players were greeted by 30,000 people when they returned from Bordeaux, where the final had been held, and the town went crazy for several days.
Toulon remained one of the top French clubs, but they lost four consecutive finals scattered over 35 years (1948, 1968, 1971 and 1985). The 1985 extra-time defeat by Stade Toulousain left them with a lot of regrets, and playing in the most spectacular final ever (36–22) did nothing to alleviate the pain of losing. The Red and Black only waited two more years to finally lay their hands on the Bouclier de Brennus, as they defeated Racing at the Parc des Princes. The third title came in 1992, against Biarritz Olympique, in Serge Blanco's last match and last chance to win the title.
For eight years, Toulon was not particularly successful and were in heavy financial trouble (a 10 million franc deficit) forced the Ligue Nationale de Rugby to demote them to the Second Division in July 2000. The club missed an immediate return the next year, going down in the final to Montauban, as only one club was promoted that year. It took them five more years to do so as RCT went on to win the Pro D2 title. Unfortunately, despite immense popular support (gates averaged more than 12,000), and a lot of enthusiasm, they only managed to win three games out of 26 and were relegated after only a season.
A new president, Mourad Boudjellal, a born-and-bred Toulonnais who made his fortune in the comic strip business, promised to build a huge team. He said: "I invented the Top 15, with a team that could be competitive in the Top 14”. He signed a high number of first-class players, some of them well above 30, like Jean-Jacques Crenca, Yann Delaigue, Gonzalo Quesada and Dan Luger. He created a lot of buzz around the team as he managed to sign former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, who arrived in Toulon right after the end ot the Air New Zealand Cup on October 26, 2006. The contract was rumoured to be around €300,000 (£200,000), which Boudjellal claimed to pay from his own pocket, for only 8 to 10 matches. In a 2010 interview, Boudjellal would say about his decision to pursue Umaga, "It was incredible, because we were in the second division and I was speaking with the best player in the world. But he said yes and came to play with Toulon."
Boudjellal continued to sign high-profile veteran players, including Australia captain and former all-time international caps leader George Gregan, reportedly paid €400,000 out of Boudjellal's pocket, All Blacks' former all-time scoring leader Andrew Mehrtens, and Jonny Wilkinson.
Back in Pro D2 for the 2006–07 season, Toulon finish fourth in the league, putting them in the promotion playoffs for a place in the Top 14, but they lost in the promotion semifinals 21–17 at La Rochelle. The following season Toulon headed the table from early on, never dropping from the top spot on their way to clinching promotion with two rounds to spare. The 2008–09 season proved to be one of consolidation. Umaga had been handed the coaching reins, but as Boudjellal would later say, "The first season in the Top 14 was very difficult and I learned that Tana Umaga was not yet ready to give up playing – and that he's not a manager." The team managed to survive that season, using a late-season surge to avoid a relegation scare. Toulon had a much more successful 2009–10 campaign, with Wilkinson leading the charge. He would be named the top fly-half of the year in France by leading rugby publication Midi Olympique, and would also be recalled to the England national team. Domestically, Toulon finished second on the league table, losing out to Perpignan for the top spot on a tiebreaker. This finish gave them a spot in the 2010–11 Heineken Cup, and also a first-round bye in that season's Top 14 playoffs. Toulon's domestic campaign ended in the semifinals with a 35–29 extra-time loss to eventual champion Clermont in Saint-Étienne.
Toulon's Amlin Challenge Cup campaign proved even more successful. They finished top of their pool and advanced to the knockout stage, crushing Scarlets 38–12 in the quarterfinals at Stade Mayol and surviving a hard-fought match against Connacht in Galway 19–12. The win over Connacht meant that Toulon would get their preferred final venue of the Vélodrome on 23 May, where they lost to the Cardiff Blues 28–21, missing out on silverware for the season.
On the day of his arrival in Paris, on 1 May 1895, just before his first concert, Félix Mayol was met by a female friend at the station, who gave him some lily-of-the-valley, a flower people traditionally exchange on 1 May in France. He pinned it on his lapel, his concert was a success and Mayol, who was superstitious, made the lily-of-the-valley his personal emblem. It was taken up by the rugby club in 1921.
In 1920, its stadium was inaugurated. It is named after Félix Mayol, a very popular concert hall singer from Toulon who had succeeded in Paris in the early 20th century. Shortly after World War I, he purchased what would be the stadium site and donated it to the club. It is one of the few French stadiums to be almost completely surrounded by the city and overlooks the Toulon bay and military harbour in the Mediterranean.
- French championship
- Challenge Yves du Manoir
- Champions (2): 1934, 1970
- Runners-up (3): 1939, 1954, 1983
|18 May 2013||RC Toulon||16–15||ASM Clermont Auvergne||Aviva Stadium, Dublin||50,148|
|24 May 2014||RC Toulon||23–6||Saracens||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||67,578|
|10 May 1931||RC Toulon||Lyon OU||6–3||Parc Lescure, Bordeaux||10,000|
|18 April 1948||FC Lourdes||RC Toulon||11–3||Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse||29,753|
|16 June 1968||FC Lourdes||RC Toulon||9–9 (aet)||Stadium Municipal, Toulouse||28,526|
|16 May 1971||Béziers||RC Toulon||15–9 (aet)||Parc Lescure, Bordeaux||27,737|
|25 May 1985||Toulouse||RC Toulon||36–22 (aet)||Parc des Princes, Paris||37,000|
|22 May 1987||RC Toulon||Racing Club de France||15–12||Parc des Princes, Paris||48,000|
|27 May 1989||Toulouse||RC Toulon||18–12||Parc des Princes, Paris||48,000|
|6 June 1992||RC Toulon||Biarritz||19–14||Parc des Princes, Paris||48,000|
|9 June 2012||Toulouse||RC Toulon||18–12||Stade de France, Saint-Denis||79,614|
|1 June 2013||Castres Olympique||RC Toulon||19–14||Stade de France, Saint-Denis||80,033|
Challenge Yves du Manoir
|0–0 (tied, joint winners)|
|1939||Section Paloise||5–0||RC Toulon|
|1954||FC Lourdes||28–12||RC Toulon|
|1970||RC Toulon||25–22||SU Agen|
|1983||SU Agen||29–7||RC Toulon|
European Challenge Cup
|23 May 2010||Cardiff Blues||28–21||RC Toulon||Stade Vélodrome, Marseille||48,990|
|18 May 2012||Biarritz||21–18||RC Toulon||The Stoop, London||9,376|
|Club||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Points For||Points Against||Points Difference||Tries For||Tries Against||Try Bonus||Losing Bonus||Points|
|3||Clermont Auvergne (QF)||26||15||1||10||659||500||+159||59||37||6||5||73|
|4||Toulouse (QF)||26||13||2||11||548||442||+106||53||30||7||6||69[n 1]|
|5||Racing Métro (SF)||26||15||2||9||459||448||+11||32||34||1||4||69|
|6||Castres Olympique (RU)||26||13||2||11||567||488||+79||50||35||6||4||66|
|14||Biarritz Olympique (R)||26||5||1||20||374||656||-282||27||68||0||8||30|
If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
|Green background (rows 1 and 2) receive semi-final play-off places and receive berths in the 2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup. Yellow background (rows 3 and 4) receive home quarter-final play-off places, and receive berths in the Champions Cup. Blue background (rows 5 and 6) receive away quarter-final play-off places, and will also receive Champions Cup berths. Orange background (row 7) indicates team that advances to a play-off against the seventh-place team from the English Premiership for a place in the Champions Cup. Red background (row 13 and 14) will be relegated to Rugby Pro D2. Updated 31 May 2014 Source: ESPN Scrum|
- Internationally capped players in Bold
Under LNR rules, teams are limited to two players of non-EU nationality on their domestic match-day rosters. However, a large number of players whose primary nationality is outside the EU are exempt from this quota for various reasons.
- The largest non-EU source of quota-exempt players are the ACP countries, due to the Kolpak ruling. In the context of rugby, the most important ACP countries are South Africa, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.
- Georgian players also qualifies for the Kolpak exemption because Georgia has a similar relationship with the EU through the European Neighbourhood Policy.
- "Umaga, l'incroyable transfert". rugbyhebdo.fr. Retrieved 4 November 2006.
- Jenkins, Graham (11 August 2010). "Toulon still dreaming big". ESPNScrum. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- "Gregan puts pen to paper with Toulon". Planet-Rugby.com. 22 March 2007.
- "Mehrtens agrees to Toulon switch". BBC. 23 May 2007.
- "Rugby: Mehrtens signs for Toulon". NZ Herald. 24 May 2007.
- Jenkins, Graham (5 August 2010). "Wilkinson hints at Toulon stay". ESPNScrum. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- "Toulon claim Heineken Cup glory". ESPN. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "RCT – Rugby Club Toulonnais | site officiel |". Rctoulon.com. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- (French) RC Toulonnais Official website