Top 14 – The American dream of Stade Toulouse

For a week, Stade Toulouse crossed the Atlantic to enjoy a stay in the United States, in connection with its partnership signed with the Utah Warriors. A few days in good spirits, which ended with a historic match against the United States selection.

Last winter, Stade Toulouse created the “Rugby Alliance”. A partnership with the American club Utah Warriors, based in Salt Lake City, has emerged. It is thanks to this agreement, as surprising as it is exceptional, that the Haut-Garonnais club has been able to spend recent days in the United States. In order to make room for Japan, installed during the group stage of the World Cup in Ernest-Wallon, the Rouge et Noir crossed the Atlantic to discover another culture but above all another vision of the oval ball.

A few months ago, Didier Lacroix, the Toulouse president, was delighted with this stay: “This is a great opportunity for us to expand the reach of the club and rugby. The United States has a thriving rugby community that we look forward to interacting with. It’s certainly an unforgettable experience for all the participants.”

This is how thousands of kilometers away, the double world champion Jérome Kaino and the pillar and local of the stage, David Ainu’u, found themselves on a television set to explain the basics of our sport to viewers . On the program, a few seconds of learning for the two presenters. A situation which may make you smile but which could be useful in the future, you never know.

Still serious training

Arriving in the United States, the reigning French champions were initially unable to resist the temptation of basketball, a sport obviously much more popular there. But make no mistake, even if good humor accompanied the Haut-Garonnais throughout their entire journey, it was not really a tourist trip. Some training sessions took place, with impeccable behavior. “It’s important to be serious, Rodrigue Neti told the group after a session. This shows our character for the rest of the season. Even when it’s hard, you have to lift your head. I don’t want to see bad attitudes.” As for the fields, the Stadistes used those of the University of Utah. And for those who didn’t understand, rugby is not really a priority in America.

Ugo Mola and his players had to put their hands to work to install the posts themselves, all with a smile, always… Aside from their workshops, the people of Toulouse were able to have a great time at the football center university, a place idolized by the locals. Alban Placines enjoyed: “It’s pretty incredible to be able to come here. It’s a place that’s quite closed to the public so it’s great to have found a slot to visit the infrastructure and continue working with a little strength training.”

A historic match against the Eagles

It’s not every day that a French club faces a selection. During the night from Saturday to Sunday at home, Toulouse faced the Eagles on the pitch at the America First Field stadium. Obviously, the sporting issue of this meeting took second or even third place. Ross Young, the head of the United States Federation, could only be satisfied with this poster a few months ago: “This is very exciting news for the American rugby public, both welcoming an internationally recognized team like Stade Toulouse, and offering our fans the opportunity to see the Eagles compete on home soil this year.” Not qualified for the 2023 World Cup, the United States therefore had the opportunity to play a prestigious meeting, which they won symbolically (24-21).

An anecdotal defeat for the Rouge et Noir. On the contrary, there is some good news to remember after this meeting. Injured for a long time, Dimitri Delibes has returned to the field. He was a starter on the right wing, Tauzin occupied the left. Like Delibes, Kalvin Gourgues missed the start of the season due to injury. Only 18 years old, the latter has a very bright future. He was lined up with the number 15 on his back. And then, while he should leave the Haut-Garonnais ranks in the coming weeks, the Japanese Kakeru Okumura scored his first try in the jersey of the French champions. In short, this week in the United States offered a breath of fresh air to the recent winners of the Top 14, while allowing the staff to revive a few players. Pure pleasure.

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