Newcastle and Toulon have met just twice in European competition, both games during the 2011-12 Challenge Cup group stage when the Falcons triumphed 6-3 at Kingston Park Stadium before going on to lose the return leg.
Director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Playing rugby in the south of France on these big European weekends is something a bit special, and the players will respond to that. The atmosphere in Toulon is as good as any, and we just want to get out there and enjoy it.
“Whether they’ll be on a similar sort of footing this time round as when they were flying high a couple of seasons ago remains to be seen, because they’re third from bottom in the Top 14 and struggling a little bit. We’ll see what happens in that regard, but on paper they’re a fantastic team. They spend probably 20 million more than us so you’d expect them to be, but for whatever reason they’re not performing at the moment.
“Toulon are undoubtedly a good side when they turn it on, they can be outstanding at times and we need to make sure we’re on top of our own game. We know where their strengths are, where their weaknesses are and it will be a very interesting contest. If we’re on song and we play well I see no reason why we can’t come away with the win.”
• This will be the first Heineken Champions Cup meeting between RC Toulon and Newcastle, however, the clubs did play eachother in the 2011/12 Challenge Cup pool stage with both picking up home wins.
• Toulon have lost their last two games in the tournament, but they’ve never lost three consecutive fixtures in Europe.
• This will be Newcastle’s third campaign in the European Cup and their first since 2004/05 when Jonny Wilkinson, later a two-time champion with Toulon, featured for Falcons on their way to the quarter-finals.
• Falcons have lost nine of their last 10 away games against TOP 14 opposition in European competition (W1) as well as all three of their away games against French sides in the top flight.
• Toulon have won 23 of 24 home games in the tournament with Saracens (Round 1 2016/17) the only visiting side to win at Stade Mayol.
• Toulon have averaged just 16.5 points per match across their last 10 games against Gallagher Premiership opposition (W6, L4).
• Toulon made more carries (153) per game than any other side last season, gaining the most metres (483) and beating the most defenders (26.6) on average.
• Newcastle (91%) were the only side to manage a tackle success rate above 90% in the Challenge Cup last season.
• Josua Tuisova beat 30 defenders in the tournament last season, only Nemani Nadolo of Montpellier (38) registered a higher total.
• Newcastle’s Adam Radwan gained the most metres (644), beat the most defenders (45) and made the joint most breaks (13, level with Gloucester’s Henry Purdy) in the Challenge Cup last season.?
• Last season, Toulon beat the most defenders of any team in the pool stage (155) with Josua Tuisova (23) and Facundo Isa (19) both featuring among the top 10 individual players.
• Toulon conceded just three second-half tries, during last season’s pool stage – the lowest in the competition.
Venue: Stade Félix-Mayol
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wal)
Assistant Referee 1: Craig Evans (Wal)
Assistant Referee 2: Wayne Davies (Wal)
TMO: Neil Patterson (Wal)
Citing Commissioner: Maurizio Vancini (Ita)
TV: FR2 / BT Sport / beIN SPORTS
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