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'Let's return to reality - Ireland must exercise caution'

Irish expectation soars as Andy Farrell's team sweeps all in its path, but cool heads are needed if they are to heed mistakes of the past

Even by his standards, Mourad Boudjellal's latest tantrum is particularly childish

By James Harrington
Mourad Boudjellal

Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal declared war on Sunday matches after watching his side slump to a 40-29 home defeat against Racing 92 at the weekend.


“If [French Top 14 pay-TV broadcaster] Canal + decides to schedule a program Sunday, we will declare a forfeit. I won’t play on Sundays anymore if we don’t get fair compensation,” comic-book magnate Boudjellal said as he let fly against the fixture list in front of surprised journalists at a midweek press conference at the club’s Berg training ground.

And the prospect of relegation to the ProD2 – an automatic penalty if a club forfeits three matches – did not faze him.

“We’ll be relegated to the second division. I won’t back down. Whatever happens, I don’t care. If we play on Sundays, we’ll be relegated to the second division, I couldn’t care less.

“I’m fed up with being the Top 14’s money pit.”

TV rights in France have seen six of Toulon’s 10 Top 14 games so far scheduled for Sunday afternoon. To add insult to injury, after playing the final match of last weekend at teatime on Sunday, they face Castres Olympique in the opening match of the 11th round of fixtures early Saturday afternoon.

He claimed the schedule was playing merry hell with much-needed ticket sales. A crowd of 13,000 were at Stade Mayol to see the match against Racing 92. Saturday afternoon matches attract audiences of more than 16,000.


“On Sunday at Mayol the stadium was empty. For two years now we have been put in difficulty over Sunday matches. We have a system based on ticket sales, merchandising (but) some people at the League have decided to kill us.”

Boudjellal vowed to write to French sports minister Laura Flessel, the former Olympic champion fencer, to air his grievances.

His mood was not improved when he learned that Toulon’s next home match – against Lyon on December 2 – is to be broadcast free-to-air in France.





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