Ex-England prospect Ibitoye left on shelf and facing season in ProD2
Barring a late call, former Harlequins flyer Gabriel Ibitoye could end up playing in France’s ProD2 next season for Agen, the club he left after just a handful of outings following his Harlequins’ switch.
He is expected back at Stade Armandie for the start of preseason this week after efforts to find him a new club stalled following the end of an unsuccessful loan spell at Montpellier.
In an interview with regional newspaper Sud Ouest, Fonteneau said his efforts to find a new club for Ibitoye had been in vain. “There have been no transfer requests concerning him,” the president said. “In France, he is a little stuck.”
A first Top 14 campaign that appeared to start so well following his move to southwest France – with two tries in his opening match – quickly turned into a nightmare for the former Harlequins player.
He did not score again in five further appearances for troubled Agen, a side that lost 26 of 26 Top 14 games in a dismal relegation season, before he was loaned out to Montpellier in January.
It was not a happy move. Agen president Jean-François Fonteneau was scathing in his assessment of a player he had considered his star signing at the start of the campaign.
“He hasn’t been involved since the start of the season,” Fonteneau said at the time of Ibitoye’s move to the Mediterranean coast.
“He does not invest much. He has a ProD2 clause which allows him to leave in the event of relegation at the end of the season. [This move] is therefore more in the management of his career rather than in the involvement with the club.”
He made just three outings for Philippe Saint-Andre’s Challenge Cup-winning side, and failed to add to his try tally.
Harlequins were, reportedly, interested in re-signing Ibitoye in March. He rejected their advances in a bid to secure a longer-term deal with Montpellier, according to The Rugby Paper.
But the club announced his release shortly after the final match of the regular season.
À l’issue de cette saison 2020/2021, le @MHR_officiel souhaite bonne route à 13 de ses Cistes ?
— Montpellier Rugby (@MHR_officiel) June 8, 2021
His hopes now rest on a non-French club coming in for him.
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