Stage is set for Toulouse to make jump to Super League

Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse
Stade Ernest Wallon is the home of Toulouse Olympique

Toulouse’s move to Stade Ernest Wallon and its blossoming partnership with Stade Toulousain rugby union club means everything is in place to help the club’s ascent to Super League.

After being forced to play on the outskirts of the city at Blagnac RFC following the collapse of planned renovations at their traditional Stade des Minimes home, the Championship side now find themselves with facilities that will be the envy of many in even Super League, as they move to the 19,500-capacity home of the reigning French rugby union champions.

Coach Sylvain Houles and his staff recently spent time with their rugby union counterparts, taking in the European Cup game against Irish side Connacht and the league win over Montpellier.

Although the formalities of the partnership between both parties are yet to be signed in contract, Toulouse Olympique have already virtually moved in to the stadium and it will go far beyond playing their games at the stadium each weekend, according to the French Federation.

Toulouse will move all their administration and commercial operations to Stade Ernest Wallon, while their previous home at Stade des Minimes is to be transformed in to a modernised training ground, due to be ready at the beginning of 2021.

There are also discussions on how the clubs can share overheads and pool resources, such as with accommodation.

Administration director, Cedric Garcia said: “The stage is magnificent and everything is now in place for Toulouse to ascend to Super League.

“I am sure that everyone will find success in this partnership. It’s up to us to make it win-win over time.”

Stade Toulousain president Didier Lacroix wants to make Toulouse a “rugby city”, incorporating not only the elite rugby union and rugby league sides, but rugby sevens and women’s teams. There is a long-term plan to include a hotel, museum and shops on the site of the stadium.

A new hybrid pitch – a mix of natural and synthetic turf similar to at Headingley and Huddersfield – was installed in the summer at a cost of €2m, supported by the local council.

And most importantly, rugby union and rugby league are working in partnership, rather than as sworn enemies, which puts Toulouse in a strong position.

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