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Toulon debut for Cheslin Kolbe 16 weeks after quitting Toulouse

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe is set to make his Toulon debut on Friday 112 days after it was confirmed he had agreed to a shock transfer from Toulouse, last season’s Champions Cup and Top 14 double winners. It was August 27, with South Africa having flown out to Australia for the remainder of the Rugby Championship, that it emerged Kolbe had jumped at a money-spinning deal to dramatically swap clubs in France.

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That August week had begun spectacularly with an unexpected Twitter rumour emerging from the UK about the club future of Kolbe and it ended that Friday morning with confirmation from Toulon that the coveted Springboks winger had signed for them.

It was only the day before when Toulon president Bernard Lemaitre hinted that he was willing to pay the South African an annual salary of €1million once they had agreed a €1.8m buy out of the remainder of the contract Kolbe had with Toulouse.

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The Springboks finisher was contracted with Toulouse until 2023 and the finalisation of the deal taking him to Toulon wasn’t expected to be so quickly rubber-stamped, but it was and he will now make his debut in this Friday’s home Challenge Cup match versus Zebre Parma. 

It’s a fixture in which Kolbe might understandably be a little rusty as he has not played a match since his start in the August 21 Test win over Argentina in Port Elizabeth. 

A leg injury prevented him from appearing in any of the four Championship matches the Springboks played in Australia and it was decided after that to omit him from their squad for the November Autumn Nations Series. That decision allowed Kolbe to complete his injury rehab at his new club and that hard work will now result in his eagerly awaited debut.

TOULON: 15. Gervais Cordin; 14. Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo, 13. Thomas Salles, 12. Julien Heriteau, 11. Cheslin Kolbe; 10. Louis Carbonel, 9. Baptiste Serin (capt); 1. Florian Fresia, 2. Anthony Etrillard, 3. Emerick Setiano, 4. Quinn Roux, 5. Brian Alainu’uese, 6. Julien Ory, 7. Raphael Lakafia, 8. Cornell du Preez. Reps: 16. Michelangelo Sosene-Feagai, 17. Jean Baptiste Gros, 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Lopeti Timani, 20. Jules Coulon, 21. Anthony Belleau, 22. Tane Takulua, 23. Aymeric Luc.

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ZEBRE PARMA: 15. Jacopo Trulla; 14. Pierre Bruno, 13. Erich Cronje, 12. Tommaso Boni (capt), 11. Asaeli Tuivuaka; 10. Carlo Canna, 9. Alessandro Fusco; 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Luca Bigi, 3. Eduardo Bello, 4. David Sisi, 5. Andrea Zambonin, 6. Liam Mitchell, 7. Luca Andreani, 8. Jimmy Tuivaiti. Reps: 16. Oliviero Fabiani, 17. Paolo Buonfiglio, 18. Ion Neculai, 19. Leonard Krumov, 20. Giovanni Licata, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Tim O’Malley, 23. Junior Laloifi.

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finn 5 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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