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Chris Cook 'very happy' to quit Premiership for Italian URC spell

By Liam Heagney
(Photo via Zebre Parma)

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Ex-Bath and Bristol scrum-half Chris Cook has signed a short-term deal taking him to Zebre Parma, the Italian-based United Rugby Championship side. The 30-year-old was picked up by Northampton last summer after his release from Ashton Gate, but the move to Saints didn’t work out as he didn’t make a single appearance and he will now see out the remainder of this season playing outside England. 

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“I am very happy for the opportunity I have been given. Zebre have embarked on a path of renewal, so it is perhaps the best time to join the squad, bringing my experience and putting myself at the service of the team,” said Cook following his unveiling in Italy.

“Italy is a fantastic country. I am happy to be in Parma and to live the cultural as well as sporting experience. I can’t wait to get involved and help the club grow. “

The former England age-grade half-back made his name during eleven seasons at Bath that also featured loan spells early in that long stint at Esher and London Welsh. When the pandemic shut down the 2019/20 Premiership season, Cook decided to swap Bath for Bristol.

However, while he made two league appearances when that suspended campaign resumed, he didn’t play at all during an injury-hit 2020/21. He then popped up at Northampton last July as injury cover only to suffer the same unused fate, Cook unable to break his way into the Saints side before he exited the club in late October.  

He has now resurfaced at Zebre, who are in a rebuilding phase following the decision earlier this month to move on from Michael Bradley, their long-serving coach, and try a different approach under Argentine Emiliano Bergamaschi due to an ongoing lack of wins in the URC. 

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Cook has already arrived in Parma where his deal will last through to June 30 with the possibility of an extension. With 14 matches left in the season at Parma, the arrival of the scrum-half is seen as timely by the Italians as Alessandro Fusco has been called up for the Six Nations while Nicolo Casilio is injured. 

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