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“It didn’t make sense” – Toulouse boss criticises Super League for not embracing the French way

Toulouse Olympique head coach Sylvain Houles has highlighted some of the issues that his side faced whilst in Super League, something he’s suggested was down to the competition not embracing the ‘French way’.

The French side earned promotion to Super League for the 2022 season but were immediately relegated as they won just five games across the season although one was a famous win over that year’s Grand Finalists Leeds Rhinos at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

That win came as part of a string of three consecutive wins late in the season as it looked like Toulouse were potentially set to escape the drop with Warrington Wolves also struggling that year, however, it was Houles’ side who were relegated and they’ve been in the Championship for the two years since.

Last year they lost in the Championship Grand Final to London Broncos whilst this season they sit third with eight wins from their twelve games so far. They’re set to host Featherstone Rovers tonight as part of the England versus France triple-header.

Houles has called for more cohesiveness from Super League though in how they schedule games for his side should they return to the competition, something that would happen if the indicative gradings released in October 2023 suggested.

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Toulouse boss slams Super League for hindering French crowds

Toulouse boss Sylvain Houles

Credit: Imago Images

Speaking to BBC 5 Live’s Rugby League Podcast, Houles spoke on the disconnect between Super League and the French culture as he questioned how the scheduling worked for their sole season in Super League, after having previously spoke on his side’s chances of returning to Super League.

Discussing the development of the game in France, the Toulouse head coach argued that Super League shot themselves in the foot with how they opted to schedule the ‘French derby’ between themselves and Catalans Dragons.

“We need to make sure that we work together,” the Toulouse boss explained on 5 Live’s Rugby League Podcast.

“The two derbies that we had last year, when we went to the Super League, they were so badly placed in terms of the French way.

“It was on a Friday, which is an Easter Friday in England. We don’t have an Easter Friday in France, so everyone was working on that Friday. It didn’t make sense.

“The other one was a Friday when you have a bank holiday in England at the end of August. We don’t have that either in France. So because of the Bank Holiday Friday, it was played on a Thursday night when kids were still going to school on a Friday so it didn’t make sense.”

Expanding on his point, Houles explained that despite the poor scheduling there was still a crowd of 10,000 at Perpignan but he still feels that more could have been done to ensure Rugby League was promoted better to French fans.

He noted: “Nothing makes sense to help us to develop the game and still, there was 10,000 people at Perpignan but it would have been so much bigger, placing them against better.

“That’s the thing, we need to work together to make sure that with the French system, the French way, the French culture, we place them games well and develop it so that they’re better.”

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