In a previous article I picked out both Toulouse Olympique XIII and The Wakefield Trinity Wildcats as two teams to avoid in the Challenge cup well both have failed in doing that finding themselves against each other.
So far this season Toulouse have completely blown away the competition in League 1 winning 4 games and drawing once. Scoring 274 points in five games averaging at 55 points a game. If that had been their only credential it would still be impressive but it isn’t, the French side have also defeated the Leigh Centurions to progress to the next round against Wakefield.
Wakefield’s trip to this round was pretty straight forward defeating Sheffield Eagles at home 44-10. The Wildcats since appointing Chris Chester have been on top form and will be big favourites in this game just as Leigh were, but can Toulouse cause another upset?
Reasons why they can
The main reason Toulouse can win this game is that they are a fully professional team. This puts them on some what of an even playing field with the Wildcats.
A second reason they can win this is confidence. Blowing away teams will ultimately give confidence and defeating a team favourites to win the Championship will do no harm either. Olympique will fancy this game as another statement of intent.
The ‘surprise’ factor. With a relatively new team having played few games this year how much research can be done on them before hand? They offer a fresh team that Rugby League has needed but how much do we know about them regarding players,style of play etc…
Reasons why they can’t
The obvious difference is Super League quality. After a shaky start the Wildcats have shown their team is full of it. Most of the Toulouse team are made up of French top flight players and League 1 experts. There will be a difference of quality but there was also at Leigh.
Lack of top opposition. Whilst giving confidence there is also the downside that simply they won’t have the experience of wining tough games. In the middle 8’s last year Leigh had the exact same problem and the difference in class really showed.
Unlike the Catalans Dragons it is very possible that Toulouse won’t have the ability to win away from home. Playing home games in France offers both an advantage and disadvantage which we have seen in the dragons for years and only this year have they looked like sorting their away hoodoo. I know Toulouse have already won away but Wakefield are a slightly different prospect to the South Wales Scorpions.
Overall I expect that Wakefield will crush the challenge cup hopes of Toulouse in a close game at Belle Vue.