IRFU broker deal for Djougang to play professionally in France
Transfers by Ireland men’s Test level players abroad are regularly frowned upon by the IRFU. Just ask Simon Zebo, the recent Munster re-signing who wasn’t capped at Test level by either Joe Schmidt or Andy Farrell after it was announced in October 2017 that he was leaving the Irish province for Top 14 side Racing.
However, the approach is different when it comes to the women’s game. Ireland have often included players who play in the league in England, the likes of Claire Molloy and Leah Lyons, and the situation has now taken a further step with the IRFU confirming they actively brokered a deal that will take Linda Djougang to France for the 2021/22 season.
Djougang had been working as a nurse during the pandemic but she will now take a sabbatical from that profession after a deal was agreed that will see the prop join the full-time set-up at Romagnat, the current French women’s champions.
An IRFU statement explained: “A deal has been brokered for Ireland women’s international prop Linda Djougang to join current French champions ASM Romagnat Rugby for the 2021/22 season. Romagnat are affiliated with Top 14 side Clermont and are three-time champions of the Elite 1 league in France with current French internationals Jessy Tremouliere, Elise Pignot and Caroline Thomas in their squad.
“Djougang, who has twelve caps for Ireland and is a fluent French speaker, made her international debut against England in the 2019 Six Nations. The 25-year-old will join Romagnat following the completion of the Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifying tournament in September.”
'One player sustained an injury during a game & was told the club wouldn’t cover the cost of surgery unless she signed a long-term contract with them.' @stella_mills_ ??? talks to 3 players about the at times 'Wild West' nature of women's semi-pro rugbyhttps://t.co/e54J39ssw8
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 26, 2021
Anthony Eddy, the IRFU director of women’s and sevens rugby, added: “This is a really positive move for Linda as she will be able to train full-time in a professional environment and test herself regularly against some of the best players in the world. We have established a strong connection with the coaches in Romagnat which will allow us to collaborate on Linda’s ongoing development. Linda will remain available for all Ireland camps and matches.”
Djougang said: “I’m determined to be the best player I can be and working with the coaches at Romagnat and being in their environment will help accelerate my development. Playing in the French league week in week out will be incredible and I am really looking forward to committing everything to this opportunity. David (Nucifora) and Anthony have put in a lot of work to make sure this move would be a good fit for me.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) August 26, 2021
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