The Toulon rugby club will play two Top 14 rugby matches this season at the Orange Vélodrome stadium in Marseille, against Toulouse on February 18 and La Rochelle on May 6, the leaders of the RCT and Olympique de Marseille announced on Monday.
Usually, the Toulonnais only relocated one of their home matches to the Marseille enclosure, on the occasion of the reception of the Toulouse Stadium, usually fixed in the spring.
But the National Rugby League (LNR) has decided to schedule the Toulon-Toulouse shock this season in February, in the middle of the Six Nations Tournament, thus depriving the Marseille public of international players, explained the president of the RCT, Bernard Lemaître, during of a joint press conference.
“This choice irritated the club a lot. I protested very vehemently especially given the success of the last game, we believe this is the first game to be ticked off the Top 14 schedule. It was not the case but we were promised that this would be changed for next year”he continued.
Last season, the Toulon-Toulouse match at the Vélodrome attracted more than 64,000 spectators, the “highest attendance of the regular season”, recalled the president of the RCT, adding that on average the matches of the RCT at the Vélodrome were watched by 700,000 viewers on Canal+, the Top 14 broadcaster.
The management of Toulon also mentioned the financial interest of these relocations, the takings from a match at the Orange Vélodrome being “four to five times higher than those of Mayol”the stadium where the RCT evolves in Toulon.
It is also a question, assured Lemaître, of developing rugby in the second city of France, which does not shelter any professional club on its territory.