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Player exodus at relegation threatened Toulon?

By Ian Cameron
Louis Carbonel (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

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The once-mighty Toulon have fallen on hard times and are now facing a player exodus with some of the clubs biggest names heading to the exit.

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Second from the bottom of the Top 14, it’s been a long way to slide for the double champions of 2013/14.

RCT officially secured the services of exiting Lyon head coach Pierre Mignoni ahead of next season, who will take dual charge at a club alongside Franck Azema. But it may be a club shorn of some of its biggest names.

Last weekend giant Springboks second Eben Etzebeth was released as he returns to South Africa to take up a contract with the newly monied Sharks.

This week news broke of the departure of France flyhalf Louis Carbonel, who it has now been confirmed will swap Toulon for the Montpellier. Despite a contract that would have run until 2024, the 23-year-old Test prospect will instead now join MHR on a three-year deal and will replace Handre Pollard, who has signed for Leicester Tigers.

He appears a difference of opinion with new owner and president, Bernard Lemaître, is the reason behind the departure.

“We are very happy to welcome Louis Carbonel to our workforce,” MHR DoR Philippe Saint-André said on Wednesday. “He is one of the faces that embody the future of French rugby. Despite his young age, Louis is an experienced player who will be a solid alternative for the MHR to the departure of Handré Pollard this summer.”

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But it gets worse, with news that France prop Jean-Baptiste Gros could be set to follow suit.

Le Rugby Nistere report that the frontrower – who has fallen down the pecking order with Fabien Galthie’s France of late – could also be set to head west along the coast to Montpellier.

Although nothing is concrete, it would be another blow to RCT.

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It may be that the reign of Lemaître is every bit as turbulent as his predecessor, Mourad Boudjellal.

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