REPORTAGE. In Toulouse, football, handball, WateRugby… A sports weekend in letters “Capitol”

During the weekend of Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September, the city of Toulouse hosted four major sporting events. Back to 48 very intense hours in the Pink City in three halves. With, as a bonus, a little WateRugby to cool off. sport was present on all grounds, even floating…

Warm-up, Saturday 8 p.m.: Fenix ​​takes care of its entry into the Starligue

Despite the still summery temperature, nearly 2,000 people rushed to the entrance of the Palais des sports in Toulouse for the opening of the handball season. And even if many places did not find takers for this first in the league against Créteil, the atmosphere is almost worthy of a sold-out match thanks to the very provided kop behind the goal of goalkeeper Jef Lettens. “These are students from a business school with which we have established a partnership”, explains the president of Fenix ​​​​Philippe Dallard. His club has always been able to adapt to exist between the two behemoths of Toulouse collective sport, Stade (rugby) and Tef’ (football). “We have already implemented a very attractive pricing policy, which takes into account the criterion of purchasing power. There are tickets for €5 for young people and for €10 you can see a match in incredible conditions, which is not the case in all sports.

And then look at the availability of the players: they return to the field as soon as the match is over to take pictures. », explains Dallard. To appeal to partners, the Fenix ​​must also be inventive. And convincing. Knowing that the companies of the Pink City and the agglomeration are in great demand elsewhere. “It’s like on the pitch, you have to stretch your arms, your elbows. And from time to time, put a small refill! »explains the president with a smile.

On the ground precisely, exit the Fernandez, Porte, Karaboué or Pardin, big names in Fenix ​​​​not so long ago. “The star now is Toulouse! » gargles Dallard. With a budget of €3.5m (the 12th in Starligue out of 16), Fenix ​​can’t afford to be crazy, but the squad is big and promising. Fifth, sixth, then seventh for three seasons, Toulouse hopes not to continue to fall in the standings each year. “We are aiming for 8th place”, laughs Danijel Andjelkovic, voted best coach in the championship last season. “More seriously, we have ambition and very good memories of the last exercise which saw us play on several fronts, including a round of 16 of the European Cup”.

1st half, Sunday 3 p.m.: Téfécé revives against Reims in Ligue 1

By 32 degrees in the shade, more than 21,000 preferred football to a Sunday siesta. However, we are far from the 31,700 spectators (sold out) recorded at the Stadium against PSG at the end of August, and the euphoria of the rise to the elite last April seems to have subsided, even if the “Indians Tolosa”, officials the Téfécé supporters set the tempo throughout the match. The Toulouse club has still not won at home, remains on three consecutive defeats and must absolutely beat Stade de Reims, probable competitor in the fight for maintenance. With the 16th budget of Ligue 1 out of 20 (40 million euros), Téfécé knows that it will have to fight to avoid one of the last four places in the classification, synonymous with relegation with the passage of Ligue 1 to 18 clubs next season. .

Toulouse around Zakaria Aboukhal after his goal scored against Reims on Sunday September 11 (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

On the field, Philippe Montanier’s men will find the opening of Zakaria Aboukhlal for the only goal of the match (31st minute). Téfécé holds its first victory of the season at the Stadium (1-0), to the great relief of Philippe Montanier who in a press conference does not forget his colleagues from “hand games” : “We will cross our fingers for Ugo [Mola, entraîneur du Stade Toulousain] tonight is a big game and a chance for Toulouse to have so many big clubs here. If we do it well, we can all see them and encourage them. Football, rugby, hand, there is room for everyone. At regular intervals, the coaches of the three Toulouse flagship clubs (Montanier, Mola, Andjelkovic) have got into the habit of meeting over a drink to discuss. “In addition, next time, I have to buy them champagne to celebrate the title of French Ligue 2 champion! »launches Montanier, before disappearing into the locker room.

2nd half, Sunday 9 p.m.: Stade Toulousain continues its momentum in the Top 14

For the first outing of Stade Toulousain at home against Toulon, Ernest-Wallon promises to be full: 19,000 spectators. Two hours before kick-off, there are already many along the barriers to encourage the players during the short bus trip to the locker room entrance. Reyda, the official speaker, and Ovalion, the mascot, provide the atmosphere. Weaned from the oval ball for almost three months, the very family-oriented public of the “Stadium” expects a lot from its team, especially after a white season, without a title or final. With the first budget of the Top 14, the most successful of the Haut-Garonne clubs is still above the fray.

Toulouse supporters at Ernest-Wallon on Sunday September 11 (DR)

In terms of the organization behind the scenes and the game on the pitch. Like his number 9, Antoine Dupont, voted best player in the world last December. At the start of the season, “Toto” has his legs on fire and is in the game on the first three tries at the Stadium, scored in the space of nine minutes during the first half hour. The Stadium won pretty well 28-8, offensive bonus and first place in the standings as a bonus. What a way to end this incredible weekend for Toulouse sport in style. For Clément Poitrenaud, the three-quarter coach, “It’s very good for the city, this emulation between the clubs. We talk a lot between us, whether it’s about training techniques, the content of the sessions, the data. It pulls everyone up.”

3rd half, WateRugby Quai de la Daurade to cool off between matches

The idea – brilliant – is worthy of a well-watered third half. The organizer, Yann Delaigue, former international opener for Stade Toulousain, confirms that this one came to him well ” In the evening “. The idea in question? Install a floating rugby pitch on the Garonne. The 40×35 m barge has no in-goal. To score a try, you have to take a dip! Organized for the 4th consecutive year, the WateRugby of Toulouse is already a well-established meeting, which has won over the public (many visitors throughout the weekend, free entry) and partners. The famous clothing brand Eden Park even attached its name to the event this year, which now has a budget of around 350,000 euros.

WaterRugby competition in Toulouse (RD)

To ensure a good program, Yann Delaigue put his address book to work. And attracted many prestigious young retirees from rugby (Thierry Dusautoir, Vincent Clerc, Christian Califano, Émile Ntamack, Guilhem Guirado, François Trinh-Duc, among others) or “cousins” from handball (Jackson Richardson, Grégory Anquetil, Jérôme Fernandez, William Accambray…). Should we see in the date chosen for this fourth edition a desire to couple the event with a home match at Stade Toulousain? ” No, not even ! » laughs Yann Delaigue. “The date has been fixed for a long time and the schedule for the Top 14 came out late. But of course we couldn’t ask for more, especially me. The Stade Toulousain and the Rugby-club Toulonnais are two clubs that have counted a lot in my career! » Happy like Yann Delaigue, and many Toulouse residents this weekend.