No Toulon clash for the Chiefs

STAR ATTRACTION: Toulon's Jonny Wilkinson.
STAR ATTRACTION: Toulon's Jonny Wilkinson.

The Chiefs have canned their proposed pre-season trip to France to take on Toulon in an unofficial world club rugby championship playoff.

The idea originally came from billionaire Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal who wanted to pit his European champion side up against the back-to-back Super Rugby champion Chiefs in a north v south playoff on February 2.

Boudjellal offered to pay all expenses in addition to a match fee to the Chiefs but the latter had to bring a full strength side to the game and in the end the Hamilton-based franchise has decided it can't guarantee that due to the unavailability of a number of leading players for various reasons including injuries.

Both parties put extensive work into playing the match, but were also unable to get the required approvals from their national bodies.

Other factors contributed to the decision not to proceed with the match, which included injury, unavailability of players and travel considerations.

"The Toulon match was always contingent on us being able to take a full strength squad, however, due to our circumstances, this has changed, so now we will put our focus on our existing pre-season campaign and an important season ahead,'' Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said.

''We have not ruled out playing matches off-shore in the future."The Chiefs will now only play two pre-season matches - against the Reds in Toowoomba, Queensland, on Saturday, February 8, at 6pm and against the Blues in Rotorua on Friday, February 14, at 6pm.

Fairfax Media