Monday 25 March 2019

Cian Tracey: 'Toulon circus continues to amaze'

RC Toulon's French president Mourad Boudjellal. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
RC Toulon's French president Mourad Boudjellal. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

One wonders what Paul O'Connell makes of the constant circus that is Toulon. The former Ireland captain was signed by the French club with the intention of helping to change their culture.

The move never materialised due to the hamstring injury he suffered at the 2015 World Cup and in the years since, Toulon have been on the decline.

Their outspoken owner Mourad Boudjellal launched a scathing public attack on former All Blacks winger Julian Savea as he said that he is no longer welcome at the club.

Several players have come out backing Savea and he responded to Boudjellal's controversial comments by writing on Twitter: "Putting all the negativity behind me and heading into this week with a positive attitude. Whether I am welcomed or not I am still contracted to my team and I will continue to train week in and week out with my brothers #endofstory #letsmoveon".

There are plenty of top clubs who would love to sign Savea, despite the 28-year-old not having set the world alight since moving from New Zealand.

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb's days also look to be numbered as Boudjellal has claimed that his agent is trying to engineer a move home with a view to playing for Warren Gatland's side at the World Cup.

Webb's family have recently moved back to Wales after one of his sons struggled to settle in France.

Meanwhile, the exodus from Savea's home country after the World Cup will continue with the confirmation that All Blacks flanker Liam Squire will join Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

Double blow for Scots

Scotland look set to be without two of their key players for Saturday's clash against France as Stuart Hogg (shoulder) has been ruled out, while Finn Russell (concussion) is a major doubt.

Russell's head injury that he suffered played for Racing on Sunday looks set to pave the way for Glasgow pivot Adam Hastings to get his chance, while Duncan Weir has also been called up to the squad.

Weir is one of six players who have joined the squad along with Edinburgh trio Magnus Bradbury, Dougie Fife and James Johnstone, and Glasgow front-row forwards Zander Fagerson and George Turner.

Flashback: 2013 - Italy 22 Ireland 15

A first Six Nations defeat at the hands of Italy left a bitter taste as Ireland were left to rue a sloppy performance without a host of injured players before they lost Keith Earls, Luke Marshall and Luke Fitzgerald in the first half.

Peter O'Mahony played on the wing, while Brian O'Driscoll was shown a yellow card for a stamp. Ireland failed to score a try with Paddy Jackson's five penalties not enough to deny Italy a famous win.

Italy - A Masi; G Venditti, G Canale, G Garcia, L McLean; L Orquera, E Gori; A Lo Cicero, L Ghiraldini, L Cittadini; Q Geldenhuys, J Furno; A Zanni, S Favaro, S Parisse.

Ireland - R Kearney; C Gilroy, B O'Driscoll, L Marshall, K Earls; P Jackson, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; M McCarthy, D Ryan; P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.

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