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Where are they now? The first ever Toulon team to play in the European Cup back in 2010

Mourad Boudjellal’s men have come a long way in five years.
Apr 27th 2015, 9:10 PM 12,315 4

France Heineken Rugby Cup Source: AP/Press Association Images

TOULON TAKE ON Clermont at Twickenham on Saturday looking for an unprecedented third European Cup in-a-row. They have the deepest club squad in world rugby and have the luxury of being able to call upon a number of world class players in each position.

But owner Mourad Boudjellal didn’t always buy so shrewdly in the transfer market. Toulon’s first year in the European Cup was in the 2010/2011 season and their team was a long way from being the unit it is today.

In fact, they only had a few household names in their starting XV when they beat the Ospreys 19-14 back in October 2010 to kick off their European Cup journey.

15. Rory Lamont

France Heineken Rugby Cup Source: AP/Press Association Images

They can call on Leigh Halfpenny and Delon Armitage to play fullback today but the Scottish journeyman was the best they could do back in 2010 (even his brother Sean would have been a better option). Lamont played for Toulon between 2009 and 2011 before retiring in 2013 with a leg injury.

14. Paul Sackey

When Sackey won the Heineken Cup in 2007 with Wasps he was one of the premier wings in the world and by the time he arrived in Toulon he was still pretty dangerous. The Englishman only spent one year with the team before joining Stade Francais and he retired in 2014 after a final season with Harlequins. He actually scored the winning try that day against the Ospreys too.

sackey

13. Mafi Kefu

France Rugby European Cup Source: AP/Press Association Images

Kefu joined Toulon in 2007 after two seasons with Dax but the Australian was really just a placeholder for some of the big names who came after. He is now coaching a youth rugby team in central Australia.

12. Geoffrey Messina

Messina was an average enough inside centre and the team improved considerably once Matt Giteau joined the following year. The Frenchman now plays under Bernard Jackman in Grenoble.

11. Benjamin Lapeyre

France Rugby Heineken Cup Source: AP/Press Association Images

Lapeyre didn’t have the star power of some of his eventual replacements but he was one of Toulon’s more underrated signings, as evidenced by his strong performances with Racing Metro in the Champions Cup this year.

10. Jonny Wilkinson

Rugby Union - Heineken Cup - Pool Three - London Irish v Toulon - Madjeski Stadium Source: Steve Parsons

The man who made Mourad’s revolution work. Even in retirement, he is still helping them in training to make sure they continue the legacy he left behind.

9. Matt Henjak

Rugby Union - Heineken Cup - Pool Three - Ospreys v Toulon - Liberty Stadium Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

 

The Australian scrum-half really wasn’t up to much – the moment Toulon upgraded to Sebastien Tillous-Borde the team began to play far better. Henjak now plays for Dax in the Pro D2.

1. Saimone Taumoepeau

Taumoepeau was a powerful scrummager who played four seasons for Toulon between 2007 and 2011. His only crime was to not be as good as players like Andrew Sheridan and Martin Castrogiovanni who came after. He is still going strong with Castres and actually scored a try against Leinster in the Champions Cup this year.

2. Jean-Charles Orioli

France Rugby European Cup Source: AP/Press Association Images

Orioli is one of the few who played for Toulon that day that is still at the club. Sebastian Bruno and Craig Burden started the last two European Cup finals but Orioli has proven to be a reliable operator off the bench for the French side.

3. Davit Kubriashvili

France European Rugby Cup Source: AP/Press Association Images

Kubriashvili is one of the world’s most powerful tighthead’s and was a real asset to Toulon during his five seasons at the club. He came off the bench in the 2013 Heineken Cup final win over Clermont and now plays for Stade Francais.

4. Dean Schofield

Schofield won the Premiership with Sale in 2006 before joining Toulon in 2010 and playing two seasons in France. He now plays for London Welsh… which is about as far away from the galacticos as you can get.

5. Christophe Samson

Probably the least known of the Toulon team that day, Samson joined the club in 2010 after three years with Clermont. He now plays for Castres and despite representing both of Saturday’s finalists and winning five caps with France, you would be hard pushed to pick him out of a line-up.

6. Olivier Missoup

Missoup is a strong blindside flankler and one of the great journeymen of French rugby having played for Toulon, Racing Metro and Stade Francais. He currently plies his trade with Oyonnax.

7. George Smith

France Heineken Rugby Cup Source: AP/Press Association Images

After Wilkinson, Smith was probably the biggest star on the team. He was a bit past his best when he arrived in Toulon, but the legendary flanker was still a great addition capable of rolling back the years and giving an expert poaching performance. He currently plays for Lyon in the Top 14.

8. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe

JMFL has played for Toulon since 2009 and continues to be one of their best ever signings as well as one of the world’s best back rows. Without him, they don’t win the Heineken Cup in 2013 and probably a few others trophies too. Just take a look at this turnover and offload for Delon Armitage’s winning try against Clermont in Dublin.

jmfl

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