Not so very long ago he was contesting lineouts against the likes of Paul O’Connell and Alun Wyn Jones in the Six Nations, but now Josh Furno is facing a very different challenge – the sixth flight of French rugby.

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According to reports in France, Furno has signed on to play for Birdart Union Club in the lower reaches of French amateur rugby.

The 30-year-old is currently listed as a player for MLR San Diego Legion, but he is awaiting the commencement of that league which was abandoned earlier this year due to the pandemic. It appears Furno has opted to keep fit with Birdart, who are currently playing in the Regional 1 competition in France (formerly the Promotion Honneur – Championnat Territorial). Based in the Basque region, Bidart are essentially contesting the sixth flight of rugby in France.

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The 6’7, 114kg Furno has 37 Italian caps to his name and looked like a coming force in international rugby when he burst onto the scene in 2012 with a string impressive performances in the Six Nations. However, his international career ground to a halt, his last cap coming in 2016.

Furno has enjoyed a true journeyman career. Born in Melbourne Australia, the star of Italy’s U20s 2008 U20s team got his start in professional rugby at Viadana in 2009, before being picked by the now-defunct Aironi in 2010. From there his career took him to Narbonne and then Biarritz in France, before switching to the Premiership with Newcastle Falcons in 2014. He upped sticks again in 2016, returning to Italy with Zebre.

In 2017 he signed with Otago, before coming full circle to the land of his birth with Western Force in 2018. In 2019 he divided his time between Wellington in the Mitre 10 and San Diego Legion in the MLR.

In total he’s played for 11 clubs on three continents in seven leagues – and he still just 30-years-old. Birdart may just be a temporary port of call, but one wonders where’s next for this once-promising lock turned rugby journeyman.

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