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Sam Simmonds to join Montpellier

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Multiple sources in France and England report that Exeter Chiefs No.8 Sam Simmonds will join Montpellier ahead of the 2023/24 season.

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Simmonds is set to replace fellow Englishman Zach Mercer, who has agreed to join Gloucester ahead of the 2023/24 season. Mercer has been a star for the French side, helping lead the team to their first ever Bouclier de Brennus last term.

The Telegraph, The Times and Neil Fissler in The Rugby Paper are reporting that his move is now a done deal. It’s a move that will reverberate across a competition whose teams are facing into a salary cap squeeze designed to protect the sustainability of the league – one in which both Wasps and Worcester find themselves facing administration.

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Inevitably more players will follow suit, not least ones who find themselves on the margins of international selection.

Although a British & Irish Lions in 2021, Simmonds failed to find regular favour with Eddie Jones and has only featured for England a handful of times under the Australian. Simmonds didn’t feature in the Australian tour this July, undergoing surgery on a hip injury.

It’s a major blow for Exeter of course, Simmonds having come through the academy at the club, one in which he spent the entirety of his professional career to date playing for – notwithstanding loan spells with Plymouth Albion and Cornish Pirates.

Although small for a No.8 (6′, 108kg), the 27-year-old has been a try-scoring phenomenon for the Chiefs, bagging over 80 tries since 2012.

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In 2020 Simmonds was named European Player of the Year after he finished as the competition’s top try-scorer, bagging eight touchdowns. He was the fourth English player in five years to receive the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy after Saracens trio Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Alex Goode.

He broke the Gallagher Premiership single-season try-scoring record too, scoring 21 tries in 23 games in the 2020/21 campaign.

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