Lydiate latest Wales player to depart for France with flanker set for undisclosed European team
18:28 GMT, 5 December 2012
18:30 GMT, 5 December 2012
Dan Lydiate will join the continuing exodus of Wales players to France at the end of this season, but a similar mass migration of leading England stars appears to have been averted, for now.
Newport Gwent Dragons have confirmed that the 24-year-old flanker, who was Six Nations Player of the tournament last season, is leaving to join ‘an undisclosed European team’.
That team is thought to be Parisian club, Racing Metro, who are also recruiting Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts, along with Northampton props Brian Mujati and Soane Tonga’uiha.
Channel hopping: Dan Lydiate will join a European club next season
However, it appears that the riches on offer across the Channel are not enticing England’s finest to abandon their Test careers with a home World Cup looming in 2015.
While a case could be made for Toulon pair Steffon Armitage and Andrew Sheridan to be recalled by Stuart Lancaster, the national coach is abiding by the RFU’s edict against selected overseas-based players and the hard-line stance appears to be having the desired effect.
Of the 15 players who started for England in last Saturday’s historic victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham, 13 are contracted to their Aviva Premiership clubs until at least the end of next season.
The same applies to other high-profile figures such as Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley, Toby Flood and Courtney Lawes.
With the age-profile of Lancaster’s side being so young, most of those in the Red Rose ranks appear content to stay put and continue to enhance their Test credentials. Just last month, the Youngs brothers – Ben and Tom, agreed new three-year deals with Leicester.
The two players who are coming out of contract at the end of the current campaign are Alex Corbisiero and Geoff Parling. While Corbisiero is understood to be poised for a move away from London Irish, his likely destination is Northampton.
Out of contract: Geoff Parling (second right) is considering his options
Leicester lock Parling is considering his options and his Tigers director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, said: ‘For someone like Geoff Parling, who is out of contract, he has come from Newcastle and now he is starting for England. He will get offers bigger than ours, so it will be down to the good will of the player to say he likes playing for you, that he is really happy here trying to win something and that he will take 25 per cent less than he could get somewhere else.’
There is a strong possibility that Parling will choose to stay at Welford Road, but less likelihood of a further Welsh exodus being averted.
Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert – who was being paid just 15,000 per year at the time he was playing a key role in a Grand Slam triumph last season – is out of contract at the end of this season and once again he will be pursued by wealthy French suitors.
Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees is set to buck the trend by staying in regional rugby, with a summer switch to the Blues under consideration, but there is talk of several Wales players taking French lessons, in readiness for a move to a Gallic club.
Home comforts: Matthew Rees is likely to play his club rugby in Wales
The likes of Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins, Luke Charteris, James Hook and Lee Byrne are already playing in the Top 14 league, but Wales coach Warren Gatland has expressed concerns about the fitness training regimes over there.
‘Against New Zealand, Mike Phillips was blowing after 52 minutes – we had to get him off,’ said the Kiwi. ‘If they go to France, they take a risk that they won’t reach our standards and expectations.
‘They have a different philosophy and attitude in France. They’ve got quality players but their preparation and approach to everything is different. They tend to have one fitness coach who puts the programme up on the board and it is not monitored as heavily as it is in the UK and Ireland. That’s something we have to look at.
'Are they physically in the best shape to compete at the highest level even though they might be playing quite well in France’