Rugby

French Newspaper Include Irish Rugby Star In Boudjellal's "Flops"

French Newspaper Include Irish Rugby Star In Boudjellal's "Flops"

In September 2015, Paul O'Connell captained Ireland into the World Cup. The Munster man was in sensational form approaching the tournament and it had been confirmed he was destined for Toulon once it had ended, as the IRFU and Munster granted him an early release from his contract.

To the despair of every fan watching that infamous day, O'Connell went off injured during Ireland's pool game against France at half-time, after a clear-out at the breakdown left him writhing in agony and requiring oxygen on the field. He would never play professional rugby again.

O'Connell did join Toulon in December, before announcing his retirement in February. He never played a game for Toulon. It was a massive blow for club president Mourad Boudjellal, who had signed O'Connell alongside All-Black Ma'a Nonu, American Samu Manoa and South African Duane Vermeulen as marquee arrivals.

Rumours are now swirling in the French press that Boudjellal may be about to sell his stake in Toulon. The star-studded French outfit have been bankrolled by Boudjellal for 11 years and to celebrate that, Midi Olympique published a "Flops v Tops" of his signings, with O'Connell making the Flops 15:

It is hard to see how O'Connell qualifies given he never got a chance to play, but in saying that the huge excitement and subsequent disappointment surrounding his signing and retirement can certainly be classified as a 'flop' in Boudjellal's book.

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After retiring, O'Connell departed the club and spent some time at Grenoble before taking a hugely exciting coaching role with the Munster Academy.

If anything, the list emphasises the sheer volume of magnificent talent Toulon has attracted in recent years. Their current squad of Chris Ashton, Ma'a Nonu and co. are sixth in the Top 14 and top of their Champions Cup group.

For O'Connell, his 2 European Cups, 3 Six Nations, 4 Triple Crowns and 4 Lions tours will surely comfort any disappointment at being dismissed as a 'flop' at Toulon.

He was one of the greatest Irish rugby players to ever pull on the jersey, even if he didn't get a dream farewell.

SEE ALSO: Watch: Stuart McCloskey Shows Great Improvisation For Ulster Try

Maurice Brosnan

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