Julian Savea was not the only Toulon player to face the full force of club boss Mourad Boudjellal’s post-match rant following the weekend’s defeat at Agen.
Boudjellal’s comments about the former All Black on RMC Sport – and the unacceptable abuse the player and his wife suffered on social media – have understandably dominated the headlines.
But the Toulon owner has not confined his anger to just the World Cup winner.
Boudjellal had promised fireworks were coming when he announced he would stand down as Toulon President in 2023. What he delivered following Saturday’s defeat was beyond fireworks. It was a full-on 24-cannon broadside from close range.
Boudjellal was not at Stade Armandie to see Toulon lose 19-10. He watched the game from London – and it’s safe to say he was far from impressed. The fact he was more than 1,000 miles away was probably the only saving grace for the players, who learned of his fury from afar.
“Except for the youngsters, all the players are free [agents],” he fumed. “The survival of the club depends on it. Some people don’t understand what this jersey and this club represents.
“If the players were as keen on the pitch as they were on negotiating their contracts, we’d be European champions.”
He threatened bus trips for all future away matches this season – which, if he carries through with his threat, includes an eight-and-a-half-hour trek to La Rochelle, and a drive of more than five hours to Clermont. “Those who don’t like it, won’t come,” he said.
French fly-half Anthony Belleau was among the players namechecked. “He has caught the virus from the French team. They can’t play anymore – and I understand why he doesn’t start in the national team given his current level…”
Belleau has recently signed a contract extension at the club, but may be having second thoughts following the latest comments from his boss. Others who are in mid-contract may also be wondering whether they should dust down their CVs.
Scrum-half Rhys Webb – who told the Daily Telegraph last week that he would see out the final two years of his contract, despite his family returning to Wales after failing to settle on the south coast of France – is one of those. In a strangely suggestive sideswipe, Boudjellal said: “His agents are offering him all over Wales, while he still owes us one more year on his contract. Don’t worry, I won’t hold him back.”
It was revealed recently that Francois Trinh-Duc had agreed to join Racing 92 at the end of the season. It had even been suggested – until Dan Carter’s short-term switch was confirmed at the weekend – that Racing boss Jacky Lorenzetti was keen for Trinh-Duc to begin his Racing career a few months early.
Boudjellal insisted no talks had taken place between the clubs. He said: “We didn’t have any request from Racing. If they had, we’d look at it. There were no discussions. Is it possible to release him? Considering how we’ve played the season…”
Nor was head coach Patrice Collazo spared. So far this season, Boudjellal has kept his counsel on Toulon’s performances under Collazo – even stating publicly that he would “go to the ProD2” with his coach.
But, after Agen, the president warned: “Patrice is at the start of a project. He faces no pressure this season, but he will have to get results if he wants to gain the confidence of the Toulon fans.”
He was so disappointed with his side’s performance, he said that he may not make it to Stade Mayol for the rest of the season. “I’d rather go to the circus!” he said. Right now, the players may be willing to pay for his tickets.