Toulouse president opens up on Kolbe's departure
SPOTLIGHT: Toulouse president Didier Lacroix said on Thursday that Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe’s departure for Toulon last month was not financially motivated.
According to French media reports, the 27-year-old Kolbe moved to the Mediterranean coast in a record transfer worth 1.8 million euros (ZAR30.2 million), with two years left of his contract at Toulouse.
“Did it have a link with saving money? The answer, really honestly, is no,” Lacroix said.
“We didn’t have to do it… The player wanted to leave.”
Thanks to winning the French Top 14 and the European Champions Cup last season, Lacroix said his club made a profit of “between one and 1.5 million euros”.
Kolbe scored 31 tries in 82 Toulouse appearances, but Lacroix backed his current group of players.
They include first-choice France internationals Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack and Cyril Baille as well as 22-year-old wing Matthis Lebel who touched town 15 times last season.
Toulouse’s Under-23 side were also French champions last term.
“I think it’s the best squad we’ve ever had,” Lacroix said.
“It’s a very young squad, who are already very talented and are gaining experience year on year.”
The record 21-time French champions are also set to play games at the town’s 33 150-capacity football stadium this season which could potentially include hosting Stade Francais on December 26 and a re-run of last year’s domestic and European finals against La Rochelle in April.