WEIGHT: 65 kg
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The Mediterranean coast looked ravishing earlier this week but the bags under Tana Umaga's eyes are not those of a man of leisure. His club's story is a cautionary one of money, greed, passion and rugby football, mostly in that order. It is also a saga still awaiting a happy ending. Little wonder Umaga resembles a diner who has ordered the veal and been supplied with a blunt knife, a dirty apron and a live calf.
It is almost the second anniversary of his initial foray to the south of France yet he is still dictating postcards from the edge of reason. Never in the short history of professional rugby union has any club attempted to reinvent itself more radically than Toulon. All have gone, to be replaced by a new raft of signings, 18 in all, including the currently injured New Zealand league sensation Sonny Bill Williams, Jerry Collins and Joe van Niekerk.
In the midst of all this instability sits Umaga, a relative coaching novice who, reportedly, is about to be replaced by the former Wallaby coach John Connolly. In many ways Toulon epitomise the costly craze currently sweeping the Top Toulon, a newly promoted side whose glory days are sepia-tinted. Their last domestic title was in There are some mad men out there.
This Gallic soap opera is also creating ripples far beyond France's second-largest naval port. This season there are overseas-born players in the Top 14, including 43 foreign props. At this rate there will soon be no half-decent Kiwis, Springboks or Wallabies left at home, even if Les Varois will be missing most of their foreign legion against Northampton tonight in the opening game of the European Challenge Cup.
The maverick Toulon president, Mourad Boudjellal, pictured below, a multi-millionaire publisher of comic books, prefers his Roy of the Rovers dream team to focus on the domestic front. This is the same Boudjellal who drives fast cars, dresses only in black and shoots from the lip. Last month he described one narrow defeat as "the most shameful defensive bonus point in the history of rugby. He does what he does and we've just got to live with it, for now. Eleventh place in the Top 14 after seven games, though, is enough to make any ambitious owner twitchy.