Written by Zack Wilson
Toulouse Olympique put a real marker down at the weekend, beating Toronto Wolfpack 46-16 in the plush surroundings of the Stade Ernest-Wallon on Saturday.
The game also drew a crowd of 6000 to a stadium normally used by the city’s rugby union side.
What was striking about the performance was that the French side were 16-6 down at half-time, but stormed back in the second half to record a famous victory.
Toulouse winger Tony Maurel was very pleased with the second-half performance, but also cautioned that he and his team-mates must not get ahead of themselves and become complacent.
“After this win over the Wolfpack, who were unbeaten until now, we are mentally pumped up,” he said.
“We are very happy with this success and our collective performance, especially after the break.
“It was very important for us to beat Toronto on our return home to Toulouse and for the public to come in good numbers.
“But we mustn’t get carried away, we must continue to work, take it match by match, stay humble and not relax for the trip to Barrow this Saturday. We must not fall into a trap.”
Toulouse fullback Mark Kheirallah kicked nine goals, and also weighed in with two tries, both of which came in the last five minutes of the game.
It was an important result for Olympique, and could spark their season into life.
The crowd figure should also not be ignored. If we want to see rugby league continue to grow, then big events are what we need to draw people in.
Playing a game in one of their home city’s top stadiums helped Toulouse create a real event, especially as the opposition had a touch of the exotic about them.
The French side also produced a performance worthy of such an occasion, playing in a style that matched the history and flair of French rugby.
The Championship is shaping up to be a really intriguing competition this season. The Wolfpack do not look like getting a walkover into Super League.
If the Treizistes of Toulouse continue to play they did in the second half at the weekend, we could be seeing two French sides in Super League very soon indeed.
Toulouse travel to face Barrow Raiders this weekend, a very different sort of test for them. It will be interesting to see if their progress continues.