French challenge awaits

Written by Pierre McLeod (pierre_mackie)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 29 Jan 2016 at 08:31
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The Cell C Sharks are set to face two of the best teams Europe has to offer when they travel to France on a pre-season tour ahead of the start of their Super Rugby campaign.

The Sharks confirmed in November that they will play two warm-up matches against RC Toulonais and Stade Toulousain on the 5th and 11th of February respectively.

Between the two clubs they boast 7 Heineken Cup/European Rugby Champions Cup titles and 21 Top 14/French Champions titles.

Toulouse, currently 3rd on the French Champions log boast 19 titles with the most recent back-to-back during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. They are also well represented at international level with two South Africans, namely Gert Muller who turned out for the Lions at Currie Cup and Super Rugby during 2006 – 2010 and Gurthro Steenkamp.

The Springbok front ranker Steenkamp is amongst other internationals like the French duo Thierry Dusautoir and Imanol Harinordoquy and former New Zealander Luke McAlister.

The other match sees the Sharks play Toulon in a repeat of last year’s warm-up where the Durbanites pipped the 3 times European Rugby Champions by two points. Patrick Lambie kicked three of the Sharks’ four penalties to record a 12 – 10 win.

Currently 4th on the French Champions log they boast consecutive European Rugby Champions titles from 2013 to 2015 and four French Champions titles, the most recent in 2014.

The French giants also overflow with international talent including three Springboks in Juan Smith, Duane Vermeulen and Bryan Habana. The French captain and hooker Guilhem Guirado, flyhalf Frederic Michalak and centre Mathieu Bastareaud. Argentine flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny, All Black mid fielder Ma’a Nonu and the Aussie quartet Quade Cooper, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and James O’Connor.


  • Have to love how while one SA team is playing two of the best teams in Europe, another is playing NMMU. And yet a month after that their expected to go and compete in the same tournament. Ridiculous.

    From these games my only hope is no Injuries, results are meaningless. Go out, have fun, get some match experience and stay uninjured!

  • Comment 1, posted at 29.01.16 08:37:37 by Seth101 Reply
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  • I know people question whats the use of playing these these as a warmup, and why they are never at full strength, but they are mid season, and it is no use playing a warm up against other teams that’s also only now starting their season.

  • Comment 2, posted at 29.01.16 08:38:37 by KingRiaan Reply

  • For a team that has done nothing but bleat about the unfair and intensive gruelling schedule that lies ahead this season ,to voluntary add two more unnecessary tough games with extra travel doesn’t make much sense.
    They would be better served to give their home fans a little more value for their season tickets,by ironing out the kinks at K.P against quality local opposition.
    The way this mini tour is structured expect some season ending injuries.

  • Comment 3, posted at 29.01.16 08:53:50 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 3) : I think this French trip is more about building up a good PR with those clubs and a marketing and team building thing . Those French side definitely wont be full strength as players will be away with the 6 Nations and those left have to focus on the French league so whilst a few might play i cant see them being anywhere close to full strength. I do however, agree with you that a friendly a Kings Park or even better at Moses Mabhida before season starts would have been great for the local fans…guess that ship has sailed though

  • Comment 4, posted at 29.01.16 09:00:05 by SheldonK Reply

  • Like last year, I don’t think they will field their strongest teams.

  • Comment 5, posted at 29.01.16 09:05:30 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : I disagree these will be hard games,in a different hemisphere going from 32 degrees in Durban straight into a brutal european winter.Lots and lots of unnecessary physical stress that will come back to bite someone in the arse later.

  • Comment 6, posted at 29.01.16 09:07:43 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 6) : U have a point there in terms of the climate. I definitely dont think they will be easy games. I was more referring to the fact that their ‘star’ names probably wont all be playing but you can bet that the guys that do play will want to put their hand up for a starting place. The travel isnt as bad as going either east or west but yeh i guess its still a toll. Like i said i think these games are more for the PR relations with the clubs and creating a fan base there than anything.

  • Comment 7, posted at 29.01.16 09:35:37 by SheldonK Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 6) : The harsh European winter is non existent in Toulon. Toulouse doesn’t get cold like the Alpes due to its low altitude.

  • Comment 8, posted at 29.01.16 09:55:43 by durbsguy Reply

  • read that travelling from west to east is the problem re: jet lag,not east to west.

  • Comment 9, posted at 29.01.16 09:56:16 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 7) : The Sharks should be concentrating all their PR efforts on the people Durban.
    So many disgruntled Sharks fans ,who are just waking up to the fact that we have one fewer home game than last year.
    Only saving grace on the season ticket is it takes in an All Blacks test.

  • Comment 10, posted at 29.01.16 09:56:49 by The hound Reply
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  • @durbsguy (Comment 8) : Trust me for guys who have spent Dec and Jan training in Durban,the temp in any part of France in January is harsh.

  • Comment 11, posted at 29.01.16 09:58:59 by The hound Reply
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  • @the hound: agree,focus must be to fill up the shark tank.and the best way to do that is to play entertaining winning rugby.but the fans want to be entertained with both spectacular tries and defence that tackles the opponents out of their boots.

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.01.16 10:06:42 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @durbsguy (Comment 8) : toulon did seem a bit unpleasant re: weather and playing conditions.hope it does not rain.

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.01.16 10:11:01 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 10) : Yeh look living in Durbs i fully understand what you mean. I have for a long time called for some fan friendly preseason games in Durbs. Especially one at Moses Mabhida to test it for rugby purposes. I am hoping we see future benefits from these french liaisons but guess only time will tell. Player swaps and contract structures between the teams could benefit both

  • Comment 14, posted at 29.01.16 10:16:37 by SheldonK Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 10) : must be a gain with re: to marketing for the sharks?.the south of france is tradionally rugby country.this is a good move by the sharks.a pre-season game in pmb or newcastle would have been nicer for the inland kzn sharks fans.durban gets the sr and cc games.and the rugby the sharks play in these matches determines attenddance.

  • Comment 15, posted at 29.01.16 10:16:40 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 11) : I am speaking from experience. Good thing the south of France has a Mediterranean climate where it is predominantly summer rain fall.

  • Comment 16, posted at 29.01.16 10:24:27 by durbsguy Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 14) : Only benefit from these games is that our players get to showcase their shit to the guys who are going to buy them next year.

  • Comment 17, posted at 29.01.16 11:01:08 by The hound Reply
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  • @durbsguy (Comment 16) : med climate has winter rainfall.ave temp in toulon for feb is max 10C min 5C with ave 6 rainy days and 10 sunny days.another weather site has the ave temp as max 13C min 6C with a ratio of 4:41 sunny to cloudy/foggy/hazy days.

  • Comment 18, posted at 29.01.16 11:13:10 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 17) : Its always nice to have an interactive catalog 😉

  • Comment 19, posted at 29.01.16 11:14:45 by SheldonK Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 6) : just think of it as starting early to practice for all the flying they will be doing later in the competition!!!!!!! 😈

  • Comment 20, posted at 29.01.16 11:15:02 by JD Reply
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  • @50shadesofshark (Comment 15) : how about a practice game in Bloemfontein so that the players can sleep at their parents?!?!?! 😈

  • Comment 21, posted at 29.01.16 11:19:01 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 21) : Home many Bloem schooled guys do we have currently?

  • Comment 22, posted at 29.01.16 11:46:46 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 22) : geez think it’s only two or three and one Kroonstad!!!!!!!! This will not do time to raid the Cheetahs again!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 23, posted at 29.01.16 13:46:27 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 23) : No wonder our standards have dropped 😉

  • Comment 24, posted at 29.01.16 14:17:38 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 24) : hahaha I’ve they catch me saying that I will be banished from Middle Earth!!!!!!!! 😈

  • Comment 25, posted at 29.01.16 15:38:44 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 25) : Would that be such a bad thing? haha

  • Comment 26, posted at 29.01.16 15:39:54 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 26) : ja if only I could find a job in Durbs!!!!!!

  • Comment 27, posted at 30.01.16 21:51:36 by JD Reply
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  • So I see the Stormers got a win under the belt against SWD…though it’s really difficult to judge anything about their performance from the 45-10 (6 tries to 2) scoreline and the very meagre write-ups about the game…

  • Comment 28, posted at 31.01.16 21:05:09 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 28) : ja almost like the Sharks practicing against under 19’s?!?!? 😈

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.02.16 10:11:46 by JD Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 10) : @SheldonK (Comment 14) : I cannot agree more,the Sharks management are clueless,what a waist of time,should have played warm ups against Aussie teams and at MM,Sharks are moving there so could have sorted any issues in playing rugby there and then fixed said issues,also fans need to be drawn to games could have made a fun set up playing Aussie teams,NH rugby is nonsense no test for SR,the last game at home was echo empty,think and care about the fans SHaRKs management

  • Comment 30, posted at 06.02.16 14:25:54 by benji Reply
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  • @benji (Comment 30) : when is the Sharks moving to MM because last I know the decision was to stay at KP?!?! Another thing what makes you think any of the Ozzie teams would want to travel to SA to play warm up games in SA?!?!?!

  • Comment 31, posted at 06.02.16 16:56:31 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 31) : the decision was not the Sharks ,Sharks were told to take a walk across the road when I don’t know but before the Commonwealth games,total revamp and upgrade of that precint coming for the games and for the future

  • Comment 32, posted at 06.02.16 18:16:43 by benji Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 31) : as for the Aussies you don’t know until you try and try properly

  • Comment 33, posted at 06.02.16 18:17:49 by benji Reply
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  • @benji (Comment 32) : to my knowledge the city want to force the Sharks to move but they have a longterm lease at KP that runs until 2056 so it’s not as easy as to tell them to move.
    The city can only boot them out of KP when the lease expire or if they break the lease agreement.
    Basically the politicians and city must make an attractive offer so that its beneficial for the Sharks to move or just shut up and try to bully someone else!!!!

  • Comment 34, posted at 06.02.16 19:12:45 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 34) : no JD its a done deal mate ,I think Rinky crapy dink is being pulled down

  • Comment 35, posted at 06.02.16 22:32:11 by benji Reply
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