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A Lot Has Changed In Toulon Since Leinster First Won The Heineken Cup

A Lot Has Changed In Toulon Since Leinster First Won The Heineken Cup
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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Leinster are facing the prospect of having their European hopes ended this weekend when they travel to three-time defending European Champions Cup champions Toulon. It's a far cry from the days when Leinster were dominating Europe, and it's hard to believe that it was just over six years ago that Leinster claimed their first European title.

But it's also just as astonishing about how quick the Toulon revolution has happened. Since Mourad Boudjellal took over the French club when Munster claimed their first Heineken Cup, he's transformed them into the giants they are today through some marquee signings. The signings started almost immediately, but it took two seasons before Toulon were promoted to the Top 14.

When Leinster were claiming their first Heineken Cup title, Toulon had just finished up a lacklustre season in the Top 14 where they finished in ninth - 15 points off 6th place, and the Top 14 playoffs.

Of that Toulon squad  that beat Montpeiller in their final game of that season, there is only one player still at the club - second row Jocelino Suta who will be on the bench against Leinster. For comparison, of the Leinster 22 that won the Heineken Cup a week later, eight players are still with the team. Only two other players - Davit Kubriashvili and Joe van Niekerk were still with the club for any of the Champions Cup successes.

In what would be unheard of in a Toulon team now, but four players in their starting lineup never got an international cap, and 15 of the 22 in the squad had less than eight caps. Included in the lineup is Czech international Martin Jagr on the wing, Georgian pair Grigol Labadze and Davit Kubriashvili.


But the clinching fact about the team? The left winger - Marc Andrieu is one of the few professional rugby players to have ever played for Toulon that doesn't have a wikipedia page in either English or French.

How times have changed eh?

Toulon XV that beat Montpeiller on May 16th 2009:

1. Saimone Taumoepeau
2. Philip Fitzgerald
3. Davit Kubriashvili
4. Jocelino Suta
5. Ross Skeate
6. Grigol Labadze
7. Jerry Collins
8. Joe van Niekerk
9. Norman Jordaan
10. Sebastien Fauque
11. Marc Andrieu
12. Gabiriele Lovobalavu
13. Mafileo Kefu
14. Martin Jagr
15. Tusi Pisi


Tana Umaga
Alessio Galasso
Guillaume Ribes
Matt Henjak
Benjamin Basteres
Thomas Sourice
Yoann Maestri


See Also: 7 Batshit Crazy Things In Sport That You Would Never Have Predicted In August

Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

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