Rugby Club Toulonnais
RC Toulon: Latest Top 14 Standing and Club History
RC Toulon History and Highlights.
While in recent times, RC Toulon hasn’t been having the hottest run in Top 14 rugby, they still remain one of the fiercest forces in French rugby. RC Toulon has won three Heineken Cups; all three of them coming in the last ten years. RC Toulon also won the French title four times and finished second-best nine times.
The club was born in 1908 when Etoile Sportive Varoise and Stade Varois agreed to merge into a single entity. Etoile Sportive Veroise was a club based in Toulon, and Stade Verois came from La Seyne-sur-Mer, which is only 6 kilometers away. After the unification, the club authority chose to stay in Toulon.
Despite the club’s splendid trophy cabinet today, it would initially take Toulon 23 years to conquer the French top flight.
That first moment of glory came in 1931. RC Toulon beat Lyon Olympique Universitaire in the first division final that year and returned home to a king’s reception. They had to wait five decades to lift the trophy again.
In the meantime, they came close to being French champions multiple times. They suffered final losses in 1948, 1968, 1971, and 1985. The 1985 final, in particular, left a sour taste in the mouths of the Toulon faithful as they watched their team lose in extra time.
After ending their title drought in 1987 with a remarkable win over Racing 92, RC Toulon picked up their third top division title five years later.
In the 1992 final, Biarritz Olympique had extra motivation to win as it was the last game of club legend Serge Blanco. Blanco, who also had the honor to captain the French national team, had never won the domestic title before and it was his last shot at winning it.
But, Toulon rained on Biarritz Olympique’s parade and took home the Bouclier de Brennus — the trophy awarded to the French Champion each year. The Red and Blacks rejoiced at becoming the champions of France again. Who could have imagined a phase of unprecedented struggles awaiting them in the following years!?
Toulon slowly slipped out of the elite group and found themselves fighting for top-flight survival in subsequent years. In 2000, they were demoted to the second division after reporting a 10 million franc loss.
The club spent five years in the second division before clinching the D2 title in 2005. But, their return to the Top 14 was short-lived as they managed to win only three out of 26 matches and finished bottom of the table.
The club invested heavily after going down. Toulon brought in stars like Tana Umaga, Yann Delaigue, Gonzalo Quesada, and Jean-Jacques Crenca. Some of these players were past their peak years, but they still offered enough to challenge for the D2 title.
Toulon won back Top 14 promotion in 2008 and, after a shaky 2008/09 campaign, eventually finished second in the 2009/10 season. They also finished as runners-up in the European Challenge Cup that season.
In 2012, they had a double heartbreak once again as they lost the Challenge Cup final to fellow French side Biarritz, and the Top 14 final to Toulouse. However, the next year, they won their maiden Heineken Cup, beating Clermont Auvergne.
Toulon successfully defended the Heineken Cup in 2014. This time, they saw off English outfit Saracens in the final. In 2015, they made history by winning the tournament once again. Toulon are the first team in history to win three consecutive European Rugby Championships.
Despite their unprecedented success in European rugby’s most prestigious competition, Toulon never managed to get their hands on the European Challenge Cup trophy, which ranks lower than the Heineken Cup. They made it to the Challenge Cup final three times, but could not win any of those finals.
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