TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE will not be drawn into a “verbal dog-fight” with Featherstone Rovers, instead preferring to do their talking on the pitch, according to Chief Executive Cedric Garcia.
Garcia has hit back at suggestions that Toulouse have “dodged” a Championship home fixture with their promotion rivals and insists that the Olympians have done everything in their power to complete as many matches as possible in the 2021 season.
Featherstone chief executive Martin Vickers said he was “left scratching my head” after recently asking Toulouse to replay a fixture postponed from May because of Covid travel restrictions.
But Garcia responded: “We saw the comments in League Express last week from Featherstone, but we don’t take any offence. It is a normal reaction from certain clubs who are a little more competitive.
“We are always careful not to hurt or annoy anyone, but the clubs with which our relationship is more tense are the ones who are trying to get promoted. It’s natural.
“Some things have been said that we disagree with, but it’s part of the mental war. It’s not the way we work and we won’t get into a dog-fight. It doesn’t interest me, all we are focused upon is what will happen on the field.
“The only voices we want to hear are our supporters cheering from the stands.”
Garcia outlined the timeline of recent communication between the clubs but insists any rematch was never on the cards.
He said, “About ten days ago, Martin Vickers contacted me and told me, ‘I’ve heard you want to play some home games, can we rescue our home fixture’, which was postponed because they wouldn’t travel here earlier this year.
“Of course we want home games but when they are on the right date. He proposed to play on the coming weekend, which wasn’t possible anyway because the ground was already taken for Stade Toulouse v Clermont.
“But I didn’t see any sense in playing a game so close to the play-offs especially when, even if we lost to Fev, it wouldn’t change a thing for the Championship table.
“He came to me a second time and suggested a midweek game, which just seemed a bit disrespectful towards us. What was the rationale behind that? Maybe they wanted to see what the stadium was like in preparation for a potential final against us.
“Every Championship side had the opportunity to come to Toulouse this season but used the excuse of part-time players needing time off work. I’m sure they needed time off when they went to play Toronto, so what is the difference with us?
“I know Martin is very good at his job and he has been doing this for many years. Everybody has the freedom to work in the way they want, but it’s not my style and it is not the Toulouse way.”
* A full interview with Cedric Garcia and his ambitions for 30,000-plus crowds for Super League derbies with Catalans Dragons will feature in next week’s League Express.