Carl Fearns is stepping back into Pro D2, the level of rugby he was introduced to when he first joined Lyon in 2015 from Bath. With his five-year stint over at the now current Top 14 club, the soon-to-be 31-year-old back row has opted to hook up with ex-England scrum-half Richard Hill at Rouen.

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The Normandy-based club, guided up the ranks from the wilds of the Federale by Hill, were in the relegation zone when the French season was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the cancellation of the 2019/20 season has given them a reprieve and they will again be in the French second-tier in 2020/21.

Fearns had feared he might not be able to find a club due to the current recruitment crisis caused by the pandemic, but his future is now secured for the next two seasons after he decided to stay in France – albeit at a lower level. 

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A tweet by the club said: ‘Carl Fearns, back row at Lyon, will settle down for two seasons at Rouen. Carl will bring all his determination and experience to help the club continue to grow. Thumbs up. Welcome him to Normandy!”

Fearns, who played 52 Top 14 games and 19 in the second tier, first made his name at Sale, spending three years in Manchester before switching to Bath. He had used social media earlier this month to confirm his time at Lyon was over. 

“What a strange way to end what has been an amazing five seasons at this incredible club,” he wrote. “I wish we got the opportunity to try and go all the way. I’ll always be proud of what we’ve managed to achieve during my time here.

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“I came to Lyon at a time when I wasn’t particularly enjoying my rugby and was made to feel welcome and a big part of it from the beginning. Huge thank you to the fans for your constant support. To the lads, continue the course, I’m sure the title’s en route. Alas, all good things come to an end.”

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