Toulouse Tour 2024

 In Club

Toulouse Tour 2024

Words and photos: Ger Sugrue

Toulouse Tour 2024 – Day 1

We assembled at Kerry airport at 9am on Tuesday 26th March – a fine drizzle falling. By hook or by crook we managed to get everyone together for a group photo

The short hop to Stansted was fairly uneventful but arriving around midday – we had to go back through security again in the UK. The new super-duper security scanners at Stansted seemed to take a dislike to our new KRFC holdalls – but luckily we had some help on hand with the bags

Our flight to Toulouse wasn’t leaving until 5.30, so as the modern airport is effectively a large shopping centre from which planes takeoff and land, some of the lads did a spot of shopping – it’s not clear if there was some sort of “buy one get 2 free” offer….

Arriving at Toulouse – we had decided to take the tram to the hotel. This meant a walk through the airport outskirts and Toulouse suburbs to our stop. From there it was 9 stops to Cartoucherie. Ger Moynihan had discovered we could buy tickets in batches of 12 – rather than 60 individual tickets but it still presented the task of validating each ticket 12 times at the card readers.

Arriving at the hotel, the lads finally discovered who their roommates would be for the next 4 nights. The late arrival meant that those who hadn’t eaten at Stansted (almost everyone) went in search for food before settling down for the night.

Final task was to collect the phones – without mixing them all up. Gradually, the excitement and high spirits subsided and everyone disppeared to their rooms. A big day awaited….


Toulouse Tour 2024 – Day 2:

After the late night, lads were slow to emerge for breakfast. The roll-call was taken at 9.30am as we boarded the bus to visit “Cite de l’éspace” – Toulouse has long been a centre of aeronautical and space engineering, and for people – like me – who’d grown up with the Apollo program and the Moon landings – this was something to look forward to.

On arrival at “Cité de l’éspace” – we received the tragic news that Margaret Murphy’s father had passed away. She left us immediately to return to Ireland with Donncha. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

We left the Cité de l’éspace after lunch to head to our afternoon event – our U14s would be playing in a blitz with our host Montaudran and Stade Toulousain.

Having arrived at Ramonville, we decorated the stand to our preference….

The pre-game formalities were observed with the playing of Amhrann na bhFiann and Ireland’s Call as well ‘La Marseillaise’

The games themselves showed a difference in playing style – wth Montaudran and Stade opting to go wide at every opportunity compared to our more structured approach looking to suck in defenders first.

As the sunny afternoon turned into a cool evening with a cold wind from the Pyrenees – we quickly understood how playing styles might differ when you’ve a hard, dry pitch underfoot

For their game against Stade Toulousain, Montaudran took a loan of Gearóid and Shane.

Afterwards, Montaudran presented everyone a t-shirt.

Back at Cartoucherie, we headed off to the food hall which offered just about every type of cuisine you could imagine – anyone familar with the Marina Market on the route to Pairc uí Chaoimh will
want to make this a stop if you ever get to a Munster match in Toulouse. We had so many requests for burgers that the stall holder gave Ger a discount for bringing in so much business.

The evening ended by rounding up the stragglers and with the roll call for phones – ahead lay our 2nd full day in Toulouse.


Toulouse Tour 2024 – Day 3:

Day 3 started as had day 2 – trying to get everyone out of bed after the excitement of the previous day. This was a recreational day in the schedule – with the option of shopping (for those who hadn’t spent all their cash at Stansted)

We tested the local bus and bus system to its limits when 60 of us boarded at Cartoucherie – we took a stroll through the city centre and made a respectful visit to the the Basilica of Saint-Sernin

Around midday, we let the lads off the leash to tour the town centre – with a deadline to rendezvous at 4pm in the main square. From what I can gather the main recipients of business were McDonald’s, a barbershop, and the Stade Toulousain shop – which we pretty much ransacked (in the nicest possible way) – with Stade’s colours of red and black coinciding with our own you’ll be seeing a lot of Toulouse gear on the streets of Killarney this summer.

The striking feature – as seen above- is the red brick which gives Toulouse it’s nickname “la ville rose” – the red town.

Assembling in the square, we gave a brief demo of lineout lifting….

Having satisfied ourselves that no-one was still on McDonalds or “boutique Stade Toulousain” – we then took a stroll (or route march as some viewed it) through the town along the banks of the Garonne to the venue for our evening activity – 10 pin bowling and no guide rails allowed

After 2 games and burger and chips – we returned to our hotel by metro and tram completing the public transport trifecta after our bus trip earlier in the day – and this time no one left their phone after them!

A big day awaited with visit to Stade Ernest Wallon – home of Toulouse – and a game against our host / sponsor club Montaudran.


Toulouse Tour 2024 – Day 4:

Day 4 began with a visit to the Stade Ernest Wallon – home of Stade Toulousain. The stadium was close enough (this is a value judgement not shared by all) to be walkable – so we took a stroll through the backsteets in pleasant sunny weather.

Before entering the stadium, we could see that umbrellas, flags, suitcases, drums, and crash helmets were permissible but vuvuzelas, selfie-sticks along with guns, megaphones and fireworks were not.

We were given a tour of the grounds, and training facilities led by former Toulouse centre Michel Marfaing – who is now director of youth development for 13-17 year old age group

Once in the Toulouse dressing room, some of the lads made a beeline for their number/position – some names and reputations to aspire to….


“…perchance to dream……”

There was also another chance to ransack the Stade Toulousain shop for more goodies and for everyone to get a ‘9’ for Dupont added to their purchases.

We also got the good news that four of our U16s are included in the Munster panel for the summer trials – congratulations to the four. It’s well deserved based on their contribitions to the U14s last year and to the U16s this season.

Leaving the Stade Wallon, we had an impromptu lunch at McDonalds – I was impressed how quickly they got through 50+ odd orders.

Then we headed off the ‘Halle de la Machine ‘. The Halle de La Machine is a museum in Montaudran housing animatronic and interactive exhibits.

One problem – we hadn’t booked in advance. However, with a mixture of charm, good looks, and terrible French – Ger and I somehow worked to persuade them to accept a party of 60 on spec.

Then we headed over to Montaudran for our second fixture of the tour – with our U16s taking on Montaudran. Our U14s had a training session with Montaudran before the big game

Once again, our hosts pulled out all the stops to ensure all the formalities were observed with Amhrann na bhFiann and Ireland’s Call played before La Marseillaise

The match was close fought and if we were a little confused by interpretation of the breakdown by the local referee….

….we ensured that all the lads got plenty of minutes in the 3×20 format.

And afterwards, well, the pictures tell a tale much better than I can……

Montaudran made a presentation to Ger Moynihan – and we presented Madame la president Celine Lorin with a plaque

And afterwards – the grown ups repaired to the clubhouse to sample some local wines, cheeses, and charcuterie – hey, when in France……

Huge thanks to everyone at Toulouse Montaudran Rugby – but especially to Cédric Guiraud who helped make the trip possible.


Toulouse Tour 2024 – return to Killarney (for some…):

And so the last day in France arrived.

Checking out – we once again paid homage to the local public transport network by catching the tram (thanks Tisseo) to Aeroscopia – a museum that captures the history of French aviation – from Bleriot (first man to fly the English Channel / La Manche in 1909) through the Caravelle – which along with the Boeing 707 ushered in the age of the passenger jet – to Concorde and now Airbus.

And with that – it was time to head back to Ireland. First the by now familiar walk to a tram from Aeroscopia and after the tram – a repeat of our Tuesday evening expedition back to Toulouse airport.

Final job – before leaving – was to purchase another large holdall to carry all the stuff bought in Toulouse and then once more through security and to the plane..

Final word about the trip back…..

Thanks to….

 Sharon, Cait, and Karen….



David, Ed, and Pierce…

And most of all to Ger Moynihan whose efforts to organise this trip cannot be adequately measured.

Meanwhile, half a world away… a Killarney scrum-half meets a veritable legendary 9

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