After voting Toronto Wolfpack out of Super League, Europe’s premier rugby league competition has another failed expansion on its hands. If Super League is serious about expansion they need to promote Toulouse Olympique.
As a matter of fact, the only way for the competition to save face is to promote Toulouse Olympique after the Wolfpack fiasco.
Toulouse has already announced their intentions to apply for the final spot in the 2021 Super League and unsurprisingly have seen support from fellow French team Catalans Dragons.
Toulouse would help grow the League game
After losing the Wolfpack, the competition is certainly lacking appeal past North West England outside of Catalans, and promoting Toulouse would be a way to help promote further expansion into Europe.
— Fédération Française de Rugby XIII (@FFRXIII) November 13, 2020
A French derby in Super League could help change the vision of the game and could help grow the game further outside rugby league’s heartlands.
In addition, two French teams in the top flight of rugby league in Europe would not only expand interest in terms of creating a new set of fans, but it would also attract European sponsors and more media to cover the game.
Toulouse hosts their home games at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, sharing the stadium with Toulouse’s rugby union team. That itself would bring extra marketing opportunities. Both teams would be in the top flight of their respective competitions that would help promote both the Top 14 and Super League in the national and local media.
Should the competition opt for a club associated with the “heartlands” like Bradford Bulls, it would likely highlight the narrow-minded nature of those in charge of the sport. Bringing in a team with a wide appeal like Toulouse would help change the perception of the game.
French side Toulouse Olympique ready to make an impact
Sylvain Houles’ men were at the top of the Championship with five wins prior to the cancellation of the season and were expected to mount a serious challenge for promotion.
The club has also invested heavily signing London Broncos hooker Eloi Pellisier and Hull KR prop Mitch Garbutt. While the club is expected to complete deals for St Helens star Dominque Peyroux and Joseph Paulo, should their application be accepted? The club are certainly confident about it.
— Toulouse Olympique XIII (@TOXIII) November 3, 2020
Toulouse already had a strong squad prior to those additions, and with four proven Super League players now in their ranks, they would be competitive in rugby league’s top flight.
Successful programs outside the first team
Among those advantages is a pathway setup that boasts 19 teams including women’s and wheelchair teams, as well as a schools program involving 2,000 children within the city. Toulouse has 400 registered players across their teams, from under five to their reserve grade side that compete in the French Elite 1 competition, the top tier of French rugby league.
🔵⚪ |#TOElite| 🔵⚪
Retour sur la 2e victoire du #TOElite cette saison ! 💪
Bravo aux jeunes Olympiens ! 👏
— Toulouse Olympique XIII (@TOXIII) November 23, 2020
The club set a goal every season to have at least one player from their academy to sign a professional contract. The system has worked flawlessly as Toulouse has developed a number of first-team regulars in recent years.
For instance, in the past few seasons, the club has had Bastien Ader, Anthony Marion, Maxime Pucech, Paul Marcon Gavin Marguerite, Justin Sangare, Mathieu Jussaume, and Clement Boyer break into the first-team ranks.
Watch for developments from the RFU and Super League boardrooms, and Last Word on Rugby will report on news of the future of the Toulouse Olympique XIII.
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