RC Toulon v London Irish, May 8th 2022
Toulon is a port city situated on the Mediterranean coast of France, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It houses a significant naval base and the harbour is home to submarines and warships, as well as fishing boats, and ferries to Corsica & elsewhere.
Rugby Club Toulonnais was founded in 1908 and competes in the French Top 14.
RCT are three times European champions, winning the Heineken Cup in consecutive seasons: 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15.
Ex London Irish players who have featured for Toulon include Paul Sackey, Steffon Armitage, Delon Armitage, Nick Kennedy and James O’Connor.
Stade Félix Mayol
Named after a popular concert hall singer from Toulon, the Stade Félix Mayol is situated close to the harbour and has been the home ground of RCT since 1920. It is easily accessed on foot from the city.
The stadium has a capacity of 18,200 in four stands, two of which are covered.
The pre-match atmosphere is famous for a chant called Pilou pilou, created at the end of the 1940s by a club player, Marcel Bodrero, which describes the Toulon players as terrible primitive warriors coming down from the mountain towards the sea.
London Irish have asked for an allocation of tickets for this fixture, and are awaiting a response from Toulon. They will announce via the usual channels when they know what is happening.
You may also buy tickets anywhere in the stadium direct from the RC Toulon ticket office.
Getting to Toulon
Eurostar from London St.Pancras to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy / Euro Disney (2h30), then a 300 km/h TGV to Marseilles Saint-Charles (3h30), followed by a local train (TER) to Toulon (0h45).
Alternatively Eurostar from London St.Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord (2h15), and take the Transilien (RER line D) to Gare du Lyon – allow plenty of time the transfer. Then the TGV to Marseilles Saint-Charles (3h20), followed by a local train (TER) to Toulon (0h45).
Direct flights to Toulon are unlikely at this time of year.
The most popular option is to fly to Marseilles and then take a train (1h30, change at Saint-Charles) or hire a car (90km, around 1h30 drive).
An alternative is to fly to Nice, then car hire (143km, around a two hour drive).
- Calais Eurotunnel 1,139km
- Cherbourg 1,189km
- Le Havre 1,030km
Parking near the stadium can cost €30 for the weekend, but you might find a space in the car park at Allées du 8 Mai, which was free when we visited in 2019. Parking may also be an option at your hotel.
Covid rules and restrictions
Things have changed significantly since our last trip, to Pau in December.
You will probably need an EU Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) to enter France from the UK. Things are relatively straightforward if you are fully vaccinated and had your most recent booster within the last nine months. You will need to show proof of vaccination when you enter France (most likely this will be checked by the travel operator when you leave the UK).
If you are unvaccinated or your booster was more than nine months ago, then you will need to do a PCR test less that 72 hours before travel, or an antigen test within 48 hours before travel. The free NHS lateral flow tests are not valid for this.
You can find the latest requirements on the Consulate General of France in London website. It’s in English and although detailed, is reasonably clear about what you need to do.
There is a presidential election in progress in France, and this may lead to further changes. Any notes here are based on our understanding at the time of writing, and may not reflect the current situation. It is your responsibility to know the rules and the law, and how it affects you.
Where to Stay
There are two hotels adjacent to the stadium: the ibis budget and the ibis Styles.
Several others are nearby, such as L’Eautel Toulon and OKKO Hotel Toulon.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are numerous bars and restaurants on the waterfront, and nearby in the city. On matchdays street-side bars appear close to the stadium.
A bar that has been popular with London Irish fans on previous trips is Le Navigateur.
We have also been approached by La Guinguette de Mayol right next to the stadium.
In common with many French rugby clubs, there is more than one group of supporters.
Le Roosevelt Bar Restaurant
115 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt
Les Fadas du RCT
Club des Mordus
Leis Amigo e Ami Dou Rubi
128 avenue de la Republique
In our experience, French supporters like a souvenir of the match, and particularly those involving overseas teams. Last time around we gave away as many LISC badges as we could, and swapped London Irish hats, scarves, flags and even shirts for Toulon ones!
The match is scheduled to be shown live on BT Sport (12:30 BST).