Saturday, October 1, 2011

Argentina Players in France - Toulouse

The most successful team in the history of the Heineken Cup and the French Top 14 is Stade Toulousain, which is also referred to as Toulouse. The club is a four time Heineken Cup champion with titles in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2010 as well as being runners-up in 2004 and 2008. The club is also an eighteen time champion of France. The club is therefore, considered as being the best French club and often, too, the best European. Toulouse is the largest city in the Midi-Pyrénées which is the largest region of France and is often referred to as athe hot bed of French rugby. Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France after Paris, Lyon and Marseilles which has a lot to do with the clubs success´s historically and in the professional era. The Midi-Pyrénées region also includes Top 14 side Castres as well as numerous former Top 14 sides who are now in the Prdo d2 such as Albi, Auch, Colomiers and Tarbes as well as teams in lower divisions including former Top 14 side, Montauban.

Toulouse has the largest budget of all Top 14 sides playing this season. Its €33,1million expenditure is remarkably €9 million more than Clermont who have the second highest budget in the Top 14. Toulouse plays it s matches at two different venues. The usual homeground is the 19,000 capacity stadium, the Stade Ernest-Wallon. However, every season Toulouse relocates both Top 14 and Heineken Cup fixtures to the larger Stadium Municipal de Toulouse which has a capacity of 38,000. It hosted four matches during Rugby World Cup 2007 and was full for each match with vocal crowds. The stadium hosted one of the best matches of the tournament in Fiji vs Japan. It has also been used for international matches with the most recent being France vs South Africa in 2009.

The club´s budget, history and reputation has enabled it to recruit big name players for the new season with Australian international scrumhalf, Luke Burgess, South Afriacn prop Gürthro Steenkamp and New Zealand flyhalf, Luke McAlister all joining the club for the new season. The club is also the home to seven French players currently involved in the countries quest to win the Rugby World Cup for the first time.  The clubs boasts two wingers in Vincent Clerc and Maxime Médard, backrowers in Louis Picamoles and captain Thierry Dusautoir, secondrower Romain Millo-Chluski, prop Jean-Baptiste Poux and hooker William Servat. The club also has Census Johnson who is playing prop for Samoa in New Zealand 2011 and two Pumas with secondrower Patricio Albacete and scrumhalf Nicolás Vergallo. Both players are crucial to Argentina´s chances for the remainder of the tournament and both are important for Toulouse. Albacete has been the clubs best secondrower for a long time and has been the best performer in his position in France year-after-year. Former Los Pumas hooker, Alberto Vernet Basualdo and prop Eusebio Guiñazu both also play for Toulouse but are not involved in Argentina´s Rugby World Cup campaign.

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