The start of the season is chaotic, disrupted because of the World Cup. But, during the first five days of the Top 14, the Rugby Club Toulonnais failed to string together two consecutive victories. Negative record: two victories for three defeats. And the last one, on the lawn of Aimé-Giral in Perpignan, the red lantern who had never won until then, awakened old demons.
“For the moment, we are not a great team, we have to work. We lack serenity and collective confidence, said Var manager Pierre Mignoni. There is too much waste, too much haste, too many bad choices. We didn’t do what was necessary to win them.”
The lack of consistency and serenity of the Varois has resurfaced in broad daylight. One day yes, one day no. “I’m going to repeat what I’ve been saying all week: We scuttled ourselves. We had a non-match in the fight or in the attitude, repeated the Var technician this week at a press conference. I was very frustrated with what we did because I know we can do much better. Fortunately we take a point (defensive bonus) because with zero it would have been even harder..."
The problem is that the discontent of Toulon supporters, recurring for several seasons and the arrival of president Bernard Lemaître, has started again with a vengeance. This week, protest posters were plastered in the streets, proclaiming: “We want XV warriors.” A new manifestation of the anger of the Toulon "fadas", revolted in recent seasons by the lack of results from their team which has not participated in the final stages since... 2018 and a play-off lost against Lyon in the number of tries scored (2-1)!
Pierre Mignoni - who decided to rest Charles Ollivon and Gabin Villière who had participated in the last matches - wanted to express himself on this (new) affair: "I have seen posters where we say that we want 15 warriors. But, I want 40 because I have 40 players. I want 40 players involved and 40 warriors for this club. If we are not in this state of mind, we do not stay in this club, let things be clear. We can't escape. No, no player is excluded and we will need everyone. Everyone must remain concerned.”
For the arrival of Racing 92, co-leader in full renewal since the arrival of the Englishman Stuart Lancaster, RC Toulon has no room for error. Especially since last year, the Ciel et Blanc had two big successes against the Var: 14-31 in December in the Harbor, then 43-7 in a match relocated to Le Havre.
This year, Toulon's two successes were gleaned at Mayol, against Bayonne (19-14) then Oyonnax (41-7). But the Ile-de-France residents are coming to strike a big blow. “It’s quite a challenge. Going to Toulon is undoubtedly one of the most complicated away matches in Europe,” says Stuart Lancaster. And to insist: “But this is the opportunity to show ourselves.”
Also read: Top 14: “I feel like a kid on the first day of school,” confides Siya Kolisi upon his arrival at Racing 92
The RCT must get back on its feet and live up to its ambitions. “We have to have a little humility in this team too because, when we look at it over the last few seasons, I must admit that it looks the same,” laments Pierre Mignoni. I want to see progression. We work hard for this with the players and the management. And to be positive: “People will say that we hear that all the time, but we are on the right track. We need the little spark to be killer in this type of match and, from Sunday, because it is going to be a big match against Racing 92. A match with no room for error in front of the demanding Mayol crowd.