Toulouse Olympique are on the brink of relegation from Super League but club chiefs are working on a “bounce-back plan” which could see the French side return to the top flight at the first opportunity.
A 52-6 defeat at Wigan Warriors on Friday, combined with Wakefield Trinity’s win at Hull FC, means the Olympians are all but relegated barring an unlikely string of results in the final three fixtures of the season.
Chief Executive Cedric Garcia told League Express: “Unfortunately, for many reasons, we have been unable to stay in the competition at the first attempt but we have every confidence that we will bounce back in 2024.
“The goal is clear, and with all due respect to the other clubs in the Championship, we have shown that we are a Super League club and we’ve had a taste of it now. We will be back.”
Garcia said work was already taking place on player-retention, including talks with Aussie scrum-half Corey Norman, who was banned for eight games last week for “inappropriate contact” with an opponent.
“We will build a team that will return to the top and this time it will be strong enough to survive,” added Garcia.
“We are already working on trying to keep our current squad together but it’s not always possible when you are relegated to a lower division; some players will want to remain in Super League.
“I don’t know if Corey Norman will be playing for us next season at this stage; we will be meeting with him and his representatives but nothing has been agreed. It’s not a no and it’s not a yes at the moment.”
Garcia said the club had strong commercial support from local businesses and civic partners, which would cushion the blow of relegation and enable the club to rebuild in 2023 for another shot at promotion.
He added, “We have a strong sponsorship base in Toulouse which has supported us for many years; it was there before Super League, before even the Championship and League One.
“They have backed us all the way and they have committed to continue their support, so we’re very confident we can rebuild and strengthen to get us back into Super League.”
Toulouse will have fullback Olly Ashall-Bott back from his one-match suspension for Thursday’s French derby at Stade Ernest Wallon.
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