New Newcastle signing Carl Fearns has lifted the lid on his crazy first week in France at Lyon in 2015, a caper where he crashed his car on his first day and then fell into a fire that weekend, while he has also revisited the infamous bust-up that left Gavin Henson knocked out during a team bonding night in Bath in 2013.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old Fears joined the Falcons with immediate effect last week on a two-year deal taking him through to summer 2023.
Despite an eventful first weekend with Newcastle, which ended in a team social that resulted in Fearns losing his phone while doing some wrestling, the back row still managed to fulfil an arranged interview with The Rugby Pod that was immensely entertaining.
Aside from outlining why he was a success at Lyon before moving on to Pro D2 outfit Rouen, Fearns also recounted some of the field capers he has been involved in during a career that began with a 2008/09 first-team breakthrough at Sale.
Asked why he was a success in France, a country where numerous foreign players fail to shine, Fearns told co-hosts Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton: “When I left the Premiership I had ten years of doing the same thing really and I just wanted something different.
Quality chat with @CarlFearns about life in France, crashing cars, setting himself on fire, that bust up with Gav Henson and caaamming home.
— The Rugby Pod (@TheRugbyPod) April 27, 2021
“I just jumped into it and that is why I went so well because a lot of the foreign guys who go over there tend to want to complain about things and want to change things whereas I just went over and dived straight into it and embraced everything about it and tried to given everything that I could and I got so much back from that.”
Fearns admitted he was fortunate that this was the case, though. A pranged car got life in Lyon off to an unfortunate start and his first week at the club then became far worse when he suffered burns while drunk, delaying his debut for a few months.
“I crashed my car,” he said, remembering his first day at the club. “Being on the wrong side of the car your perception of where cars are is a bit off so I crashed into a parked car on the first day. And then at the end of that week… we had a few drinks in pretty much a forest in the middle of nowhere.
“The lads set up a huge fire and I have had too much to drink, got up and tripped over this branch and fell right in the middle of the fire. I was that drunk I didn’t notice I was in a fire. One of the boys picked me out of the fire and then our full-back at the time was a doctor and he said just go and sit in the river.
“So I was just sat in this river until the ambulance came which took a while because we were in the middle of nowhere in the forest. I got thrown into the back of the ambulance and I remember Pierre Mignoni looking at me saying, ‘Carl, you’re playing next week’. I ended up having two-and-a-half months out and I thought they could potentially rip my contract up. Luckily they didn’t and I went on to be a big player for them.”
Prior to his French adventure, which ended with last week’s transfer to Newcastle, Fearns had spent four seasons at Bath and made headlines in 2013 for knocking out Henson in a bar not long after the Wales Grand Slam winner had arrived at the English club. “I have been accused by Gavin of dining out on that far too much,” quipped Fearns at the start of the show before later in the interview revisiting what happened.
“The lads went to Thatchers Brewery. I didn’t go but they were egging Gav on, they wanted to see ‘Super Gav’. Then when ‘Super Gav’ came out they all wanted to try and put him back in the box,” explained Fearns, who later met up with the Bath squad that night.
“He already had been point-scoring with the other lads in the team before so we just sat him down and said, ‘Look, this is Bath, small place, everyone knows your business, just chill out’. He then stood up and said he would knock me out and said your missus wants to get with me… I didn’t intend to knock him out with what I threw but unfortunately it did… I got on really well with him after. If I had known that that isn’t him I just wouldn’t have done what I did really.”
'I was very much a middle-to-bottom player in a club… it’s their salaries that are getting cut by a large amount. Those players are left in the s***' @TomStephenson13 walked away from rugby at 26, his mental health in tatters. He talks to @heagneyl ???https://t.co/tIADPwvn0G
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 11, 2021
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