Written by Callum Walker
Toulouse Olympique have been desperate for a place in the top tier for a few years now. The French club finished second in last year’s Championship competition, exiting the play-offs at the semi-final stage to eventual winners Toronto.
But, Sylvain Houles’ side has been growing tremendously in the recent past. Whilst always been renowned for their attacking prowess, it is their defence that Houles spent most of 2019 focusing on. That gave Toulouse the second-best defence in the Championship behind leaders Toronto.
Heading into the 2019 season, Houles drafted in some extra quality into what was already a star-studded line-up with Frank Winterstein, Harrison Hansen, Lloyd White and Jy Hitchcox bringing Super League and NRL experience to the south of France.
Alongside an impressive recruitment drive, Toulouse are constantly producing their own talent at a rapid rate, whilst a move to the city’s rugby union ground Stade Ernest Wallon is sure to boost their status within La Ville Rose.
That ground is famous within union circles which will undoubtedly help the league side’s notoriety. The league side will have their own changing rooms with their own colours, and a much improved pitch on a bigger scale. So, if Championship teams feared the Olympique attack before, then they should fear them even more heading into 2021.
— Rugby Football League (at 🏠) (@TheRFL) July 28, 2020
It’s a great disappointment that the Championship and League 1 seasons have been cancelled because, with Toulouse five wins from five, there was a great chance of Houles’ men finally making it to the promised land at the fourth time of asking.
However, the signing of Mitch Garbutt ahead of next season is a surefire way to send a warning to rival teams that the French club are gearing up for Super League. The 31-year-old has signed a two-year deal with Toulouse, having made 25 appearances for Hull KR since moving to the Robins at the start of 2019.
Prior to that, the rampaging forward had played 84 games for Leeds after moving to West Yorkshire from the NRL. But, this is the type of intent that second-tier sides need to show if they are going to earn promotion. Toulouse look a real force to be reckoned with heading into 2021.