Toulon president Bernard Lemaitre has confirmed the club will be signing Cheslin Kolbe from Top 14 rivals Toulouse in a deal that could reportedly cost them €1.8 million and have the Bok wing earning an annual salary of €1m.
Speaking to local daily newspaper Var-Matin, Lemaitre confirmed the highly anticipated deal, which followed hot on the heels of rumours that emerged on Wednesday to suggest the 2019 World Cup winner could make the move from one French powerhouse club to another.
The deal will reportedly cost Toulon €1.8m to buy Kolbe out of the final two years of his Toulouse contract, which ran until 2023. Kolbe himself will, according to the report, earn an annual salary of €1m (R17.5m), which Toulouse were not willing to match.
Due to his involvement in the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship and end-of-year tour of Europe, Kolbe will only be available for selection in early December. He will join Bok teammate Eben Etzebeth at the club, which also has South Africans Quinn Roux and Cornell du Preez on its books.
“We promised ourselves that we would henceforth be less dependent on internationals because we paid a heavy price last season,” Lemaitre told Var-Martin. “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.”
The move brings an end to the 27-year-old’s four-year career with Toulouse, who he joined in 2017 from the Stormers. During his time with the club, he made 82 appearances, scoring 172 points, helping them win the Top 14 title in 2019 and a domestic and European double in 2021.