2024 RC Toulonnais vs Munster Rugby

Munster Rugby Relishing Toulon Challenge In Investec Champions Cup

Munster Rugby Relishing Toulon Challenge In Investec Champions Cup

Munster Rugby is relishing the challenge of facing RC Toulon in Round 3 of the 2023-2024 Investec Champions Cup at the Stade Mayol on Jan. 13.

Jan 11, 2024 by Philip Bendon
Munster Rugby Relishing Toulon Challenge In Investec Champions Cup

Two-time Champions Cup (formerly Heineken Cup) champion Munster is relishing the opportunity of its upcoming trip to three-time champion Toulon. 

Speaking to the media ahead of the trip to the south of France, Munster fullback Simon Zebo, who knows Toulon better than most, having spent time in the Top 14 with Racing 92, touched upon the challenge facing his team. 

Now a senior figure on the squad, Zebo has brought his teammates up to speed with what to expect at the daunting venue.

"Yeah, we've had a few chats with some of the younger players," he said. "They've been asking about the atmosphere, and when they start throwing the newspapers in the air, that's never a good sign, so hopefully, that doesn't happen.

"It's obviously a pretty hostile environment, and as hostile as they get in France, so it will be a very big challenge. But I think this group of players is prepared, the coaching staff has done a great job with us and I think we will be fully equipped to get a result, as long as we can play our best rugby. 

"They have a lot of stars, a lot of great players over there, and they're a team doing well enough in the Top 14. Europe is a big competition for that club, as well, having been so successful in the past.

"So, it's going to be a huge challenge, but whichever team can put the better 80 minutes on the board, it will be a dogfight. Hopefully, we can get that full 80-minute performance. 

"We've been in the mix in these close games in the past, and getting over the line is going to come sooner rather than later, hopefully." 

The fixture is a must-win for both teams if they have any designs on progressing to the knockout rounds. 

Munster slipped up against a second-string Bayonne at home in Round 1 and saw a comprehensive lead diminish. The visitors surged back to secure a draw. 

In Round 2, Munster saw a two-score lead slip again, as Exeter raced back almost inexplicably to win and deny Graham Rowntree’s side a losing bonus point. 

Since then, matters have only gotten worse. Munster now faces an injury list that sees 21 squad members on the injured list following back-to-back URC derby match losses. 

Assistant coach Mike Prendergast, who followed Zebo at the media press conference Tuesday, offered an update on the injuries and his thoughts on the Toulon trip. 

"Especially the individuals that were training, the likes of Joey, Pete, Niall Scannell, a massive amount of experience. 

"Going back into a new competition, Champions Cup away to Toulon, to get a few players back like that, with the experience and the individuals they are, it's definitely something that in terms of timing is good. It'll add to us." 

The Stade Mayol match will occur Jan. 13 at 3.15 pm GMT/10.15 a.m. ET.