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Heineken Champions Cup: RC Toulon, the return of an ambitious man full of confidence

2023-12-08T17:57:15.996Z

Highlights: Rugby Club Toulonnais returns to the Heineken Champions Cup this Saturday (14pm), when they host Exeter Chiefs on Matchday 1 of Pool C. The Red & Blacks won the Challenge Cup last year against Glasgow Warriors, erasing the defeat in the final against LOU in 2022. Toulon, 2nd in the Top 14, are the team in form at the moment with four consecutive wins. Melvyn Jaminet and Leicester Fainga'anuku have not even set foot on the pitch at Mayol.


Winners of the Challenge Cup last year, the Red & Blacks are back in Europe's biggest competition. Mignoni's men, solid in the Top 14, have no shortage of arguments to shine on both fronts.


The Mayol stadium is waiting for just that. After a two-year absence, Rugby Club Toulonnais returns to the Heineken Champions Cup this Saturday (14pm), when they host Exeter Chiefs on Matchday 1 of Pool C. Victorious in the Challenge Cup last year against Glasgow Warriors, erasing the defeat in the final against LOU in 2022, the Red and Blacks did not waste the second European competition. Quite the opposite. But the scent of the Heineken Champions Cup smells even better and RCT know it better than anyone, as they will not soon forget their historic treble achieved between 2013 and 2015.

A promising dynamic

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge and a global pandemic has dissipated somewhat since Toulon's last appearance in the competition. Forgotten the round of 28 loss by forfeit (0-2021) in April 19 to Leinster, due to Covid-<> cases within its squad, the Var club is back in the spotlight, strengthened by the confidence gained over the last two years in the lower echelon. "It's a great pleasure to be back in the Heineken Champions Cup. Last year's squad, which is almost the same this year, has given itself the right to play in this historically important competition for the club, said manager Pierre Mignoni in a press conference. This is a very good thing. In terms of confidence, the ability to make things possible, winning a final, this Challenge Cup title was very important and beneficial for the future."

Recruits already in tune

The rest corresponds to the start of the 2023-2024 season, more than successful in the Top 14. One point behind leaders Racing 92, Toulon, 2nd, are the team in form at the moment with four consecutive wins. The most recent one last Saturday, against Section Paloise (36-13), gave a glimpse of the great offensive potential of the team (five tries), which is not yet running at full speed despite the immediate contribution of the first XXL recruits of the summer.

Frenchmen Enzo Hervé, Selevasio Tolofua and Enzo Abadie were quick to fit into the mould, as did Fijian joker Setariki Tuicuvu and Englishman David Ribbans, who arrived from Northampton Saints and will meet again next weekend (15 December) on Matchday 2. "It was an amazing first month. I got to know everyone: the fans, the staff and my teammates. Now, it's exciting to start this new competition," said the 10-cap England international, who is now accompanied by his compatriot Jack Singleton, who has arrived as a medical joker at hooker. These newcomers, who are already performing well, delight coach Mignoni, who can now count on a formidable depth on the bench, essential to exist on both fronts.

Premieres for Jaminet and Fainga'anuku

While Scotland's Ben White alternates at scrum-half with Baptiste Serin, the two star signings at full-back, Melvyn Jaminet and Leicester Fainga'anuku, have not even set foot on the pitch at Mayol yet. Luckily, the boisterous Toulon fans will discover them this weekend against Exeter Chiefs, with the former Toulouse player announced as a starter. "There's going to be a lot of emotions. It's going to be my first time in Mayol," Jaminet told the press on Thursday, the Hyères native who discovered rugby at RCT until he was 16. The only time I set foot on this stadium I must have been 12 or 13 years old, apart from the friendly last season. I can't wait to experience this atmosphere, I can't wait!"

Read alsoChampions Cup: at what time and on which channel can you watch Toulon-Exeter?

The reception of the red and black supporters for the Tricolore, "ready" to start and "hang on" according to their manager, is likely to be at the height of the general euphoria that has gripped Toulon since the return from the World Cup. Five wins in six Top 14 games, a lively attack (27 points scored on average) and an impregnable fortress at home, all the lights seem to be green when it comes to facing Europe. The icing on the cake is that captain Charles Ollivon, who was extended last Saturday until 2027, is back in the squad and will start in the starting line-up. Unlike the eagerly awaited Fainga'anuku, the All Black winger who scored five tries in the World Cup, who completes the Toulon armada as a finisher.

With its experience, its rich squad and its improving game, RCT can believe in a great epic for its reunion with the Heineken Champions Cup. Provided they negotiate the group stage well, which includes two mouth-watering visits (Exeter Chiefs then Munster) and two perilous trips (Northampton Saints then Glasgow Warriors). The adventure begins this Saturday in the madness of Mayol, which is just waiting to relive the thrills.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2023-12-08

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