Toulouse plan for a Super League future

Toulouse Olympique will ground-share with top rugby union club Stade Toulousain next season if, as is hoped, contracts can be exchanged in time between the two clubs and the local authorities.

The historic move, provided it receives the backing of the city, the département and the region, will take place regardless of whether Olympique play in the Championship or Super League next year.

Toulouse played their Championship match against Toronto there in March, drawing a crowd of 6,000. The two clubs have also trained together.

Plans to redevelop Olympique’s historic home stadium, the Stade des Minimes, were abandoned when a small group of local residents objected, even though two sides of the ground had already been demolished.

The club has played for several seasons at Blagnac rugby union club, which, however, would not comply with Super League standards.

The Toulouse local authorities, who were set to foot the bill for the renovations at the municipally-owned Minimes, now appear prepared to fund Olympique’s ground-share at Stade Toulousain’s Ernest Wallon Stadium, which is owned by the rugby union club.

The ground can hold 19,000 spectators, but the current French champions, traditionally one of the best-supported rugby union clubs in France, have ambitious plans to double the capacity, as well as building a hospitality, hotel and office complex.

The pitch is due to be re-laid with a hybrid surface, consisting partly of grass and partly of synthetic material.

Olympique will continue to use the Stade des Minimes for training and for junior and reserve team matches. Their reserves, who operate in the domestic Elite 1 competition, will be coached next season by their former second-rower or centre Sébastien Raguin, who took over when Julien Gérin was appointed at St Gaudens.

Raguin, who was selected 25 times for France and played for Catalans Dragons between 2007 and 2012, will also oversee junior development as the club aims to build the foundations of a future Super League team.