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Agen president has pop at Ibitoye amid transfer speculation

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(Photo by Romain Perrocheau/AFP via Getty Images)

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Agen president Jean-Francois Fonteneau has criticised former Harlequins winger Gabriel Ibitoye following speculation that he could be on the move again just six months after he inked a two-year deal with the Top 14 club that required Agen to pay the Londoners a compensation fee.


Ibitoye has made seven appearances and scored two tries so far for Agen, six in the league where the club are running last of the 14 teams,  having failed to win a single one of their 14 outings so far.

His most recent appearance came in the early December Challenge Cup loss to London Irish and media reports in France now claim he has a number of options available to him, both for the remainder of this season and into next season as well. 

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According to Midi Olympique, Bayonne inquired about Ibitoye some time ago with a view to joining next season but a temporary move to Montpellier has been mooted where he would numerically compensate as a medical joker for the long-term absence of the injured Handre Pollard. The South African hurt his knee in September and won’t be back until next summer, leaving Montpellier with the scope to bring in someone to bolster their squad in some way. 

Montpellier have been in crisis recently, axing coach Xavier Garbajosa and getting director Phillipe Saint-Andre to take a hands-on role with a team that is currently 13th in the Top 14 with three wins from twelve games, two points behind Bayonne and Pau in the battle for safety. Aside from Bayonne, Toulon are also reportedly looking to sign Ibitoye, who turns 23 in March, for next season.  

Speculation about the possible departure of Ibitoye has annoyed Agen rugby president Fonteneau. He told Sud-Ouest“He [Ibitoye] hasn’t been involved since the start of the season. He doesn’t invest a lot. He has a Pro D2 clause which allows him to leave in the event of a downhill at the end of the season. He is, therefore, more in the management of his career rather than involvement with the club.”


It was last October, in an interview with The XV, that Ibitoye claimed his game was more suited to club rugby in France rather than in England. “English rugby, in my opinion, is more structured,” he said.  “Here, when I get the ball, I look up and think, ‘okay, what are these defenders doing and how do I beat them?’

“The primary job of outside backs is to beat defenders and get the team going forward… because it’s a lot less structured (in France). Players can create something out of nothing and it highlights individual brilliance. That’s what I need to try and improve in my game. So I think French rugby is more suited to me.”


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