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Bakkies Botha hits out at Toulon for hitting rock bottom in France

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

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Legendary Springboks second-rower Bakkies Botha has taken to Twitter to mourn the weekend Top 14 result that has left Toulon – the club with whom he won three successive Champions Cup tournaments and a French league title – bottom of the table and battling relegation. 

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It was 2015 when the great Toulon team developed by Bernard Laporte had its final day in the sun, defeating Clermont in an all-French European final at Twickenham, but they have been on a gradual slide since then and they are now playing catch-up in the top flight in France.

Toulon is a club that still attracts star players – just look at the recent signing of Cheslin Kolbe from Toulouse, last season’s double winners. However, collectively there is something not quite right at the club and Saturday’s home defeat to Castres was their second setback inside six days and it left them bringing up the rear in France. 

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Although a point behind 13th-place Biarritz, who are in the other relegation spot, and four points shy of twelfth-place Brive and safety, there should be no panic at Stade Mayol as Toulon have three games on hand on Biarritz and two in hand on Brive. 

However, the fact that the once all-conquering Toulon are at the bottom has caused consternation, with the legendary Botha among those irked by his former club’s plight after they lost 22-10 at home to Castres the weekend after they were beaten 26-24 at Stade Francais.

“Some of the highest-paid players in the world and this is the result,” grieved Botha on Twitter. “Feeling sorry for RCT supporters. ‘Maybe money has become more important than rugby’. If Mourad was still at RCT. It will be war at the club on a Sunday morning. ‘Responsibility and character’.” 

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It was December 2019 when Mourad Boudjellal, the deep-pockets architect of Toulon’s halcyon days, sold his controlling share at the club to Bernard Lemaitre but they continue to struggle for consistency on the pitch and their current plight won’t get any easier next weekend as they are set to entertain league leaders Bordeaux on Saturday night.   

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