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The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation

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La Rochelle confirm 8 new signings including Thomas and Dillane

By Ian Cameron
Teddy Thomas /Getty Images

Heineken Champions Cup title holders La Rochelle have confirmed that they have signed France winger Teddy Thomas from Racing 92 and Irish second row Ultan Dillane from Connacht.

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Dillane – who was born in Paris – confirmed he would be leaving Connacht back in December but it took until today for Ronan O’Gara side to make it official.

Thomas’ departure from Racing 92 has been the talk of the French rugby this year, although it was widely known that he was heading to the yellow and blacks on the west coast.

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Mark Cueto on England rugby, Eddie Jones and the try that never was | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 40
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Mark Cueto on England rugby, Eddie Jones and the try that never was | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 40

Thomas has 28-caps for France, although he didn’t feature for Fabien Galthie’s side in this Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam campaign due to injury. A renowned finisher, Thomas has played 16 matches this season for the Parisians, scoring 10 tries.

The pair’s arrival was announced today alongside that of George-Henri Colombe Reazel, Yoan Tanga Mangene, Antoine Hastoy, Quentin Lespiaucq, Thierry Paiva and Ulupano Seuteni.

Dillane is the only non-JIFF recruit, though he will arrive in France with the benefit of language.

The Franco-Irish second line spent nearly eight years in Galway, where he made over 126 appearances.
He will also leave behind a bidding career with Ireland, where he has won 19 caps to date. He hasn’t featured for Ireland since last year.

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He played 13 matches for Connacht this season , including two in the Champions Cup.

As well as O’Gara, the 6’6, 114kg Dillane joins fellow former Irish second row Donnacha Ryan, who is already very much enscounced at the Corsairs as a coach.

O’Gara conjured up a coaching masterclass to inspire La Rochelle to a last-gasp 24-21 Heineken Champions Cup final victory over four-time champions Leinster at the end of May.

Underdogs coming into the final, the French outfit snatched victory at the death when replacement scrum half Arthur Retiere squirmed his way over from a ruck on the Leinster line to put his side ahead with a mere 17 seconds left on the clock.

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additional reporting PA

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