OPINION: Why it is too early to write Toulouse off yet

Steven Hughes
Toulouse Olympique 2022 preview

Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com

Toulouse played their first Super League game on Saturday against Huddersfield, but fell to a humbling 42-12 defeat against Huddersfield.

It was a harsh lesson for the French side to learn in their opening appearance at the top level. They won promotion courtesy of a win over Featherstone in the play-off final.

Despite the fact it is only one game lost, many have already written off Toulouse in terms of relegation from the Super League.

Far from ideal off-season for Toulouse

As a result of Covid laws in France, Toulouse have suffered disruption ahead of the start of the season.

Initially, it looked like it was going to be a headache for both Catalans and Toulouse, as the French government initially said no travel was allowed between the UK and France except for an exceptional circumstance. This did not include sporting exemptions.

As a result, several European rugby union fixtures were called off.

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Soon after, the government modified that rule, but made it so nobody could travel to or from France from the UK unless they were fully vaccinated.

This brought it’s own problems for Toulouse, with Johnathon Ford leaving the club soon after, citing personal reasons.

For a while, it looked as though Mark Kheirallah was going to follow Ford out of the door. However, before the Huddersfield game, he made himself available.

Despite this, Kheirallah was not selected for the Huddersfield match, with Head Coach Sylvain Houles unsure if he will play for the club again.

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In Ford and Kheirallah, they are two of Toulouse’s best players as they have risen through the ranks. To lose them, and so close to the start of the season will have been tough for them.

Plenty of time to turn it around

Ultimately, it was one game of a 27-game season. Things are not decided after round one. There is plenty of time yet for Toulouse to improve and turn their fortunes around.

They may need some reinforcements to help them achieve that, but it certainly is not over yet.

It will be interesting to see how they react to that game against Huddersfield, when they face Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

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