THERE will be no entente cordiale when Oldham Rugby League Club and French side Toulouse Olympique go ‘tête-à-tête’ for the first time on Saturday evening in the Stade Ernest-Argelès.
But there was plenty of friendship and cross-code unity when Tetbury RFC, from Gloucestershire, discovered they would be in Toulouse on the same weekend as Roughyeds and for the same reason — to beat the French at rugby.
As young boys Prince William and Prince Harry used to play rugby in the Tetbury RFC minis, whose current under-11s will act as escorts for the Roughyeds players when they walk on to the pitch to face a Toulouse side which lies second in the KP Championship behind Hull KR.
Explained Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton: “Out of the blue I got a message from Tetbury RFC saying 19 boys and their fathers would be at our game to support us.
“They wanted to know if we had a club song that their boys could learn, but I invited them instead to be our mascots for the night.
“It looks as though we’ll have a decent following of our own fans inside the stadium and it will be great to have the additional support of the Tetbury boys who, I’m told, will be watching rugby league for the first time.
“The boys will walk out alongside our players and it will be a great rugby experience for them.”
They will wear their Tetbury RFC shirts in a show of cross-code solidarity and national unity.
They will be based in Toulouse while playing tour games over the weekend in that region.
Their mission — “to have fun, immerse ourselves in French culture and to beat the French at Rugby Football.”
Said tour leader Allan Pollok-Morris: “We were looking for a match to occupy the boys on Saturday evening, but Toulouse RUFC, which would naturally have been our first choice, are playing away the day after.
“We then discovered Oldham were in town to play Olympique, so we contacted Chris (Hamilton) to ask about a song because the lads are keen to support an English team and they like to get involved.
“We were absolutely delighted to accept his invitation for the boys to be Oldham mascots for the night. They will have a great night and enjoy every minute of it.
“They’ve never seen rugby league before and they’re really looking forward to it and to giving Oldham their support on French soil.”
The match kicks off at 6pm Central European time, 5pm here.
Oldham, meanwhile, have confirmed that Bloomfield Road’s South Stand on Summer Bash Saturday (May 27), when Oldham v Rochdale (2.30) is one of four games that day, is now SOLD OUT.
The club still has tickets for reserved seating in West Stand (£30 adults, £15 concessions), but not many left. Ring 07904 898177.