Former Leicester Tigers fly-half Andy Goode has described Toulon’s playing surface as ‘shocking’ ahead of Saturday’s European Challenge Cup semi-final.
The pitch at Stade Felix Mayol cut up significantly during Toulon’s 11-6 victory over the Scarlets in Saturday’s quarter-final clash that was settled by Sergio Parisse’s 56th minute try.
It will be used once more on Saturday for the last-four encounter after Leicester Tigers progressed courtesy of Castres being forced to forfeit their participation. Three players and one staff member tested positive for coronavirus, preventing them from travelling to Welford Road.
Ahead of the eagerly anticipated clash Goode, a five-time Premiership winner and two times European champion at Tigers, criticised the playing surface during a conversation on The Rugby Pod.
Joined by fellow ex-Tiger Jim Hamilton (JH), each week Goode (AG) picks out his ‘Goode’ and ‘bad’ moments of the rugby week, and in the most recent episode he focused on Toulon in his list of bad moments.
AG: “The bad; Toulon’s pitch. How bad was that, Jim?”
JH: “I didn’t think it rains there, is it on the coast?”
AG: “It’s on the south coast, the pitch was shocking. It looked like a park pitch. I’m hoping they will fix it by this weekend because Leicester are coming to town and I am commentating and I don’t want to see as dull a game as it was between Toulon and the Scarlets, because the pitch was shocking. Parisse scored, but the pitch was bad.”
Many people took to Twitter during and after the Toulon v Scarlets game to share their thoughts about the pitch.
@ElisabethMatth1: Scarlets looked like what they were, a team short of game time together. Physicality and effort were outstanding, easily matched Toulon. Missing key players but give those boys on the field last night some time together before judging them too much. Pitch didn’t help anyone.
@rugby_tourist: Poor pitch, poor ref and the Scarlets didnt play that well, however they could still have won. I thought the game changed when Carbonel came on for Toulon. A lot of good young 10s in France currently.
@pantwood777: Poor game on a very poor pitch. Toulon a shadow of the team of 3 years ago. Could not fault the Scarlets for effort but not a lot of creativity which seems a real malais in our pro game imo. It was just an arm wrestle punctuated by penalties.
@craigthomas1: Strong first half, especially defensively. Getting in Serin’s face is a tactic that seems to be working, too. I’m wondering/hoping that Toulon’s fitness levels will prove inferior, which will give more space for Scarlets’ backs. And that pitch is a disgrace.
@ianapharri: Why was the pitch so heavy? Have there been big storms there? I noticed the @scarlets_rugby front row were cleaning their boots at every scrum.