Cheslin Kolbe confirms £1.5m move to Toulon as Springbok signs seven-figure deal

South Africa star and 2019 Rugby World Cup hero Cheslin Kolbe will swap Top 14 allegiances after confirming he’s joined Toulon from French rivals Toulouse on a reported three-year contract.

The move is a groundbreaking one in that Toulon will reportedly shell out €1.8million (£1.5m) to sign Kolbe, who still had two years remaining on his previous deal.

Rumours emerged earlier this week suggesting Toulon were closing in on the Springbok, but the move is now official after the club announced its latest recruit on Friday.

Kolbe also took to Twitter to confirm the switch to his 65,000 followers, posting a lengthy message of thanks to Toulouse and their fans following his four-year stint at the Stade Ernest-Wallon:

The 27-year-old said Toulouse would “always be home” to him and his family, writing: “The time has come for me to say ‘Au Revoir’ to one of the greatest chapters of all time. I don’t know where to start, because I never expected the end to come so soon.

“I hope you understand my decision to move on to Toulon was not easy. I want to express the greatest gratitude to the entire Toulouse community.

“I will forever be grateful for everything I have learned and experienced with Stade Toulousain, the lessons learnt and the memories made, stretch far beyond the rugby field.

“I would like to thank Stade Toulousain for the opportunity to be apart (sic) of their legacy and making history. Thank you for your impact on my career and your role in shaping me into the player and person I am today.

“Thank you for believing in me and giving me the freedom and joy to play at my best. I have made so many special and incredible memories, friends and ultimately friends that became family.

“The ST brotherhood I will forever cherish. I love you my brothers and I will miss you the most!”

The 5’7” superstar added he hoped to still “inspire every young boy or girl, every person, that you are never too small to dream big and you can achieve whatever you put your mind to, if you just believe.”

As well as being part of the Springboks squad that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan two years ago, Kolbe also played a key role in this summer’s series win over the British and Irish Lions.

That came after he lifted the Top 14 title and the European Rugby Champions Cup with Toulouse this past season, ending his time at the club on the biggest of highs.

He’ll have a few friendly faces awaiting him at the Stade Mayol, with long-time South Africa team-mate Eben Etzebeth already an established name at Toulon.

Fellow South Africa natives Quinn Roux and Cornell du Preez—who represent Ireland and Scotland on the international circuit, respectively—have also joined the club for the 2021/22 season.

It’s understood Toulon have rewarded their new star with a contract worth €1million (£860,000) per year, putting him among some of the top earners in the sport.

SA Rugby Mag cited quotes Toulon president Bernard Lemaitre gave to Var-Martin, where he said the club made an exception to their new spending policy in order to sign “an exceptional player.”

“We promised ourselves that we would henceforth be less dependent on internationals because we paid a heavy price last season,” he said.

“But this is an exception made for an exceptional player.

“A lot of things are now favourable to Toulon. It is an important operation and not easy to carry out to be in terms of the salary cap. It’s a really exceptional opportunity, especially since we needed a game winner in the backline. For a more average player, we would not have done it.”

Kolbe leaves Toulouse having scored 31 tries in 77 starts for the club, lifting league silverware in both 2019 and 2021.

Toulon are attempting to re-establish themselves as a superpower among the top flight of French rugby, having failed to win the Top 14 since 2014.

Coach Patrice Collazo’s chances are certainly aided by the acquisition of a star talent like Kolbe, whose transition to Europe since leaving Stormers four years ago has been seamless.

Toulon previously won three Champions Cup in as many seasons between 2013 and 2015, hoping a talismanic talent like Kolbe will help them reach those heights again in the near future.

Kolbe isn’t expected to be available for his new club until December, however, as he’s away with South Africa for the Rugby Championship before diverting attention to the autumn internationals.

He’s looking forward to the challenge, however, as Kolbe’s statement concluded: “I look forward to a new chapter and to seize the opportunity ahead and I hope to continue to give (sic) pave the way for many other “Cheslin Kolbes” to come.

“So, from myself and my family, THANK YOU from the bottom of our heart.”

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