Fans show their frustration with Kolbe at Toulon
SPOTLIGHT: The use of Toulon’s megastar wing Cheslin Kolbe has come under question as fans grow frustrated with the Springboks star and the hefty price tag he brings.
Toulon made waves in 2021 when it paid a blockbuster transfer fee to buy out his Toulouse contract and sign a new one at a reported €1M per season.
However, since making the move to the glamour club injuries have marred his time at the famous Toulon club with extended time on the sidelines in between internationals with South Africa.
What’s the right fee for Toulon to pay Toulouse for Cheslin Kolbe – £2m? Easily in the top five best players in the world, two years left on his contract.
Louis Picamoles reportedly cost Montpellier £1.3m to sign from Northampton a few years back.
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) August 25, 2021
The Stade Mayol faithful waited until Round 17 last season to see their new star play at home in a league fixture, with his official debut coming earlier against Zebre in a Challenge Cup match.
Kolbe made 10 appearances for Toulon in the Top 14 scoring three tries in his first season, while he scored one more in three Challenge Cup fixtures.
In the 2022/23 season, Kolbe has featured six times in the first 15 weeks of competition but featured heavily for South Africa in the November internationals.
In addition to the lengthy time on the sidelines, fans have grown frustrated with the lack of game planning to use Kolbe, complaining he ‘never receives the ball’ outside of returning kicks.
Toulon paid a €1.8M transfer fee and €1M per year for him to never receive the ball apart from kick receipts with a fully loaded defence line waiting for him.
Give this guy the ball and he will give you magic. Hurts to watch 💔 pic.twitter.com/OPQOUeirAA
— Amazing Vheriwa (@amazingvheriwa1) January 7, 2023
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) October 23, 2022
Best bit of business Toulouse ever did.
Got the best out of Kolbe, then offloaded him for a massive fee once his form collapsed & Roc Nation turned him into a bellend.
Used the fee to recruit Jaminet, Barassi, Capuozzo, etc.
Mouldy husk of a once-great player now is Kolbe. https://t.co/Q0rXs1ZPUDADVERTISEMENT
— Stephen Wall (@StephenWall1985) January 7, 2023
Toulon fans are famously harsh critics who have turned on stars who don’t perform to expectations. Former All Black Julian Savea is a notable recent example, who drew the ire of former owner Mourad Boudjellal.
Some fans are now putting the Kolbe contract up there as one of the club’s worst bits of business, with one fan calling it ‘the most spectactular robbery that Toulon has known’.
This Twitter user wrote: “Kolbe who takes nearly a million euros is clearly the most spectacular robbery that Toulon has known and there have been some beautiful.”
Kolbe qui prend près d’un million d’euros c’est clairement le braquage le plus spectaculaire qu’ai connu Toulon et il y en a eu des beaux 😭
— Alex (@AleexxFB) December 15, 2022
Another lamented the ‘ghost’ of Kolbe: “The RCT has been boring us for years as a bonus, in particular with the Kolbe ghost that Canal still imagines at the level of 2019… I think Bayonne Pau deserves more respect than Toulon.”
Ça fait des années que le RCT nous ennuie en prime avec notamment le fantôme Kolbe que Canal imagine encore au niveau de 2019… Je trouve que Bayonne Pau mériteraient plus d’égards que Toulon.
— racahout (@racahout1) December 5, 2022
Kolbe recently re-commmited his future to the club after speculation that he would leave France to either return home or go to Japan.
“I am happy to be able to clarify: I only have my mind in Toulon. I am here and this at least until 2024,” he said.
His former Stormers club reportedly offered a five-year contract to return to South Africa, while he was also pursued by Japan Rugby League One team where fellow Springboks Willie le Roux, Damian de Allende, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Malcolm Marx, Faf de Klerk and Jesse Kriel ply their trade.
Toulon once again have learnt the risk in paying top dollar for wings who rely on those around them to create space and opportunity, even for a player as gifted as Kolbe.
The Springboks World Cup hero has not been able to replicate the club form he had with Toulouse, with French halves pair Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.
He scored nine tries in his final season with Toulouse and captured the double, the European Cup and Top 14 League title, his second with the club.