Saturday 18 November 2017

Toulouse at a glance

Where do they play?

Stade Ernest Wallon, which has a capacity of 19,000. Saturday's clash with Leinster will be played in the Stadium Municipal de Toulouse, which can hold nearly 36,000.

What are they worth?

Minted -- Byron Kelleher doesn't come cheap. There is no sugar daddy figure, rather a corporate conglomerate which help Toulouse generate close to €20m in turnover. Just as well, as the wage bill comes in around the €7m mark.

Is it a rugby town?

Very much so. The soccer team, Toulouse FC, play in the top flight but rugby is the biggest show in town. Numerous museums and monuments are spread across the city, which is also the home of the European Space Programme.

Who coaches them?

Head coach -- Guy Noves

Capped on the wing for France and now referred to as the 'Alex Ferguson of rugby' after nearly 20 years of consistent coaching success with his hometown club. The best coach in France, if not Europe.

Forwards coach -- Yannick Bru Uncompromising and rugged former French hooker who puts the meanness into Toulouse's pack.

Star names?

A long list that includes France Grand Slam-winning captain Thierry Dusautoir, All Blacks scrum-half Kelleher and free-running full-back Clement Poitrenaud.

Any Irish connection?

Trevor Brennan runs the popular De Danu bar in Toulouse and is still heavily involved with the club after spending five years playing there between 2002 and 2007. Lansdowne player/coach Aidan McCullen was also on their books a few years ago.

European record?

Three Heineken Cup titles including the inaugural one in 1996. Toulouse have made at least the semi-finals stage eight times in 15 years of competition.

And at home?

Seventeen domestic titles, the most recent in 2008.

Famous old boys?

A who's who of French rugby --Jean Pierre Rives, Jean Claude Skrela, Christian Califano, Thomas Castaignede. Former Wales and Lions captain Gareth Thomas also had a successful stint there.

Anything else?

Toulouse has an asteroid named after it (Leinster fans insert crash-and-burn gag here) called 138 Tolosa, which was discovered by Henri Joseph Perrotin in 1874. There is also a breed of goose named after Toulouse, a bizarre-looking bird that appears to be half chicken and is mostly used for foie gras.

Irish Independent

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