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French giants again rumoured to eye Vunipola signing swoop

By Paul Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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French rugby paper Midi Olympique has again linked Billy and Mako Vunipola with a move to the Top 14.

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The Saracens and England forwards have on more than one previous occasion dismissed similar suggestions – but nonetheless the rumours persist.

MO writes: “Two of the best-known internationals still playing could be making an imminent departure to France.

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Michael Cheika
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Michael Cheika

“Mako and Billy Vunipola are coming to the end of their contracts with Saracens and are ignored by Eddie Jones.

“Their CVs have recently been submitted to Top 14 clubs and some contacts may already have been made.

“The name Vunipola comes up repeatedly at Bordeaux Bègles. Billy Vunipola matches the profile sought to succeed Louis Picamoles and become the new spearhead of the Girondin (an area around Bordeaux) pack.

“But the two brothers appear to be determined to continue their careers wearing the same colours which would need a significant investment.

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“With Thierry Paiva, Vadim Cobillas, Kane Douglas and Alexandre Roumat coming to the end of their contracts, l’UBB has some room for manoeuvre.”

Midi Olympique then goes on to speculate that Paris, Toulon, Lyon and even Clermont are on the lookout on the market for a no.8.

Both brothers are known to be out of contract at Saracens at the end of the current season, and should they fail to regain places in the England squad the lure of a big-money contract in France could be significant.

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However, floating such a possibility via a well-timed leak is also a well-used route with which player agents apply pressure ahead of contract negotiations with their current club.

Loose head Mako who is now 30 joined Sarries from Bristol in 2011 and made his England debut the following year. He has since gone on to win 67 caps in addition to winning selection for the last three Lions tours.

Younger brother Billy (28) joined Mako in Barnet in 2013 after beginning his career at Wasps. He has since won 60 England caps in addition to being selected for the 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand before withdrawing due to injury.

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