A Canadian international who won the 2016 PRO12 title with Connacht will be hoping that relegation is scrapped if there is no resumption in the suspended Pro D2 season in France. Shane O’Leary, who stepped off the bench at last year’s World Cup versus eventual tournament winners South Africa, has secured a deal for 2020/21 in the French league’s second tier after returning from Test rugby in Japan to feature in the English Championship with Nottingham. 

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The 2019/20 second-tier season in England was terminated by the RFU last month, officials at Twickenham eventually deciding the final places on the table via a best playing record formula. 

That left Nottingham finishing in sixth but with clubs in that division now under huge financial pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic and the RFU’s intention to cut in half the annual grant it gives to participating teams, many players are looking for work elsewhere. 

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O’Leary’s previous stint in France at Grenoble during the Bernard Jackman era now looks to have paid a long-term dividend as Rouen have signed him for next season. 

However, O’Leary can’t be certain yet what division he will be playing in as Rouen are second from bottom, seven points behind Aurillac, and there is no agreement yet by French officials as to what to do with a season that has been suspended since March 13.

An Irishman capped 14 times by Canada, O’Leary joined Pat Lam’s Connacht after his initial stint in France, appearing as a sub in the 2016 PRO12 final win over Leinster at Murrayfield. Ealing Trailfinders was the 27-year-old’s next stop before he linked up with Nottingham in 2018. Veteran Samoan international David Lemi best-known player currently in the Rouen squad. 

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