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School Rugby Tours at the Home of Euro Champions

The beautiful coast of the south of France is typically associated with the languid beachfront lifestyle of Nice, spotting the glitterati at St Tropez, star-spotting on the red carpets of Cannes or taking a dramatic coastal drive towards Monaco. But nestled along the Mediterranean coast is the charming town of Toulon; widely revered by rugby fans worldwide for its sporting achievements. Although a notable naval port and historical / cultural centre in its own right, Toulon is also home to one of the finest rugby clubs in Europe.

Established in 1908, RC Toulonnais has the impressive record of having won the European championships (Heineken Cup / European Rugby Champions Cup) three times in succession (2013-15) as well as winning the French championships four times. Indeed, at the time of writing, Toulon were holding second position in the French 2015-16 season.

Located near to the historic old town and near to the port, the club’s home is at the 15,400 capacity Stade Mayol; named after the singer Felix Mayol a popular concert hall entertainer of the early 1900s. Something of a local hero in the town, Mayol was instrumental in finding, funding and building a site for the club, and supporting the sport he adored.

Toulon’s alumni have included the likes of Johnny Wilkinson (England), Gavin Henson (Wales) and Andrew Mehrtens (All Blacks), and members of its current squad (Hooker Guilhern Guirado, Centre Maxime Mermoze and Prop Xavier Chiocci) made their presence felt in France’s recent Six Nations performance.

The clubs status in European rugby has made it a popular destination for our school rugby club experience trips / tours. The exact itinerary we put together for a school party is tailored to the wishes of the school itself, but typically includes: a professional coaching session with TRC players and coaches, a competitive friendly match against a local team from TRC’s Academy or associated feeder club, a Q&A session with a member of the current squad, watching the current first team being put through their paces in training, and a behind the scenes tour of the club by team manager Tom Whitford. Depending on the timing of the trip it can also be possible to see the team in action at a home match.

And if there is time within the schedule, we always try to fit in some sightseeing around the lovely town of Toulon itself. Close to the stadium is the picturesque old town with its maze of narrow pedestrianised streets, numerous fountains and charming squares. The more grandiose and elegant upper town district boasts Toulon’s fine Opera House, the Palais de Justice, Place de la Liberte and the Gardens of Alexander I.

Students return from these pro-club experience tours enthused and inspired. They are given a valuable insight into the workings of a world class rugby club; the defeats, triumphs, team spirit and the kind of hard work and dedication it takes to succeed at the top of the international game.

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