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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Rugby Riviera - A glimpse into the lives of English players at Toulon

We recently featured an interview with Jonny Wilkinson talking about life and rugby in France, but here is an extended look at not only Wilkinson, but a few of the other English stars plying their trade at table topping Toulon.

Sky Sports went to Toulon to find out how life is treating the English players at the Top 14 leaders, ahead of the Heineken Cup. There's six in total, not to mention players such as Bakkies Botha, Matt Giteau, David Smith, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, and many other top internationals.

Steffon Armitage is one English player that has made a big impact at the club, and now has his brother Delon playing alongside him, as well as Simon Shaw, Nick Kennedy, and Andrew Sheridan.

Toulon have high hopes for not only domestic rugby, but the Heineken Cup too as they have set out to win the tournament, spearheaded by their charismatic club president, Mourad Boudjellal. 

The self made comic-book millionaire has succesfully built a squad based around more than just a bunch of talented players. He believes that the work ethic of the English players in particular has been a key ingredient in why they have been succesful there so far.

"A lot of people think Toulon is a club with a millionaire and no soul and that I spend endless sums of money to get the best players in the world, like a team on PlayStation, but it is now self-financed," he said.

Below are the two parts to Rugby Riviera, 9:53 and 10:39 minutes long respectively

Credit to Sky Sports for the special report

Posted at 1:52 pm | 12 comments

Jonny Wilkinson keeps hope alive for 2013 B&I Lions tour

Viewing 12 comments

proptank October 17, 2012 10:40 pm

on the second video, carl hayman absolutely smashes someone at 9.18. huge training ground hit.

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Chris October 17, 2012 11:45 pm

Surprised Steffon wasn't on the Autumn trip, he has been in outstanding form. Can't blame some of the old internationals moving to toulon towards the end of their career. Looks like a great place to be and play.

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Canadian content October 18, 2012 4:13 am

Stefon definitely should have been in SA, can't think of many better 7s in England. Definitely should be considered for the Lions tour, too bad that domestic responsibilities may interfere

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Frenchie October 18, 2012 5:52 am

Really cool vid! I just wish the French would learn from their English team mates/ opponents. The English do things right, basics are always done right, they're aggressive, they fight hard and don't like to loose. In brief they're in for business, game after game.
Best example with the last 6Nation; I thought that this "new" team played a great rugby.

The French certainly can play great rugby but they are not consistent; often they need to be pushed to their limit to play. We can mention the RWC final in NZ.
I hope the new generation will be more "professional" and bring a more efficient rugby.
Saint Andre has named several new and young guys in the squad; lets see how they do on the pitch; if they play.

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Pretzel October 18, 2012 2:30 pm

Sadly that description of the French national team is perfect... One week you field 15 players, they play phenomenally well, the next week you field the exact same team and they play phenomenally badly.

I remember reading about the 6 nations year in year out, and people are always saying, "well it depends which French team turn up, the ones that want to play or the ones that don't"..

French RWC semi final game was "lucky" to say the least, I mean it was a close game even with a Welsh player in the bin, the French just looked a bit sloppy, but just kept it together. Then the Final, they played out their skins, I felt they were very "unlucky" to not win it.

The French are always a dangerous team to play against because they always have the skill, you're just never sure if they're going to use it at all.., however I look forward to the times when they become consistently dangerous, and teams go into a match against the French and KNOW it will be tough..

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Gensian5 October 18, 2012 11:29 am

Delon talking about the busy life of london? London Irish play in Reading :L still all top players though, especially Steffon I'm amazed he was taken to SA. Kendo still has always deserved a shout IMO as well and has really got it

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stroudos October 18, 2012 11:07 pm

"Delon talking about the busy life of london? London Irish play in Reading"

Pretty sure most of the players live nearer the training ground in Sunbury, (west London).

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Pretzel October 18, 2012 2:32 pm

RD what happened to the man hit on the head loses two pints video???

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Rugbydump October 18, 2012 6:27 pm

Base79 removed it, for Premiership Rugby, so the post is gone for now.

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Pretzel October 18, 2012 9:16 pm

aww boo, well thanks for replying and letting us know.

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Rob October 18, 2012 5:04 pm

The French final was after the team had set out to SA. I'm not sure but it might have even been after one of the opening games.
Steffon should have been in but from Lancaster's point of view the tour is relatively short and if you're going up against the boks you want a team that's been training together from the start and not having someone come in after a week or so

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Colombes October 19, 2012 2:07 pm

Good and interesting video on these "expat" english players.

I quite agree with boudjellal and laporte saying that english players bring some professionalism and strong mentality to Toulon. Most people believe that english players come to Toulon as old persons finish their lives on the french riviera. It's maybe true for Shaw or Andrew Sheridan, but clearly wrong for the armitage brothers and co. Salary cap is also a reason but they also want to practice a more "opened" rugby.

Finally, The mix between french skills and anglosaxon players had begun a trademark in Toulon.

adding one word on the inconsistency of the french national team, st-andré has already bring some professionalism in the french selection, but i really hope that he will achieve to give this "english" mentality to the players. 2015 will be the answer

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