Three players signed last summer from the Gallagher Premiership – including Gabriel Ibitoye who joined Montpellier on Friday as a medical joker from Agen – have featured in a Top 14 mid-season list of Top Flops voted by the rugbyrama.fr website. Top of the list is former Harlequins winger Ibitoye. Having fallen out with the London club, he signed for Agen for the 2020/21 season but his cross-channel move hasn’t been fulfilling.
“The Englishman symbolises the sad first part of the season for Agen, who have 14 defeats in as many games in Top 14. His arrival last summer, after long weeks of negotiation, had raised high hopes, like the off-season of Agen as a whole,” wrote Midi Olympique, the French bi-weekly rugby newspaper, in its review of the website poll where Ibitoye secured 19 per cent of the 28,000-plus votes.
“The former U20 international was billed as a nugget coming out of a great year with Harlequins, totalling 21 appearances every competition combined, 19 starts and ten trials. Across the Channel, many were moved to see a potential candidate for the England XV leave. It’s a fail. Six months later, regularly injured, he played seven games with his new team, for six starts and two tries.
“Agen president Jean-François Fonteneau explained in Sud-Ouest: ‘He 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 than in the involvement with the club…”
Ibitoye has now joined Montpellier as a medical joker for the remainder of the 2020/21 season just five months after leaving Harlequins, while he has been linked with a permanent move to either Bayonne or Toulon for next season.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 12, 2021
Other Premiership recruits on the list of new signing flops are former Saracens midfielder Alex Lozowski. The Montpellier centre was listed in joint third place with 13 per cent of the votes while Joe Taufete’e, the American hooker who joined Lyon from Worcester, picked up one per cent of the vote in the poll that had 14 candidates.
In contrast to the downbeat appraisal of Ibitoye, Lozowski and Joe Taufete’e, Will Skelton, the Australian who joined La Rochelle from Saracens, was voted the fourth best signing for 2020/21. He received ten percent of votes in a poll of 22,000 that selected Bruce Dulin, his Rochelle teammate, as the No1 best signing.
“What if one of those guys [at the club] is gay or has gay children?"@SimonZebo says he wouldn't play on the same team as Israel Folau, as rumours swirl of the Australian's return to rugby union. https://t.co/kf2E406JaI
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 14, 2021
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