Former Bath and England fullback Nick Abendanon has admitted that he turned down two Gallagher Premiership club in favour of a two-year deal to stay in France.

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Earlier this month Abendanon signed for Vannes in the ProD2, bringing to end months of speculation over where he’d land after Top14 giants Clermont decided not to renew his contract. Set to turn 34 in August, the twice-capped England player had been left in limbo due to the Covid-19 pandemic calling a halt to the Top 14 season in France and stalling the recruitment process for next season.

While he had suggested he’d welcome a return to the UK, in the end, Francophile Abendanon say he and his family ultimately wanted to stay France.

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Furthermore, in an interview with Leo Faure published in RugbyRama, Bath born Abendanon revealed he had offers from two Premiership clubs, Leicester Tigers and London Irish.

“I had two other opportunities, in England, at Leicester and at the London Irish. I finally made a family choice, that of Vannes. I always said that I liked France, that I felt good there and that I wanted to stay there. It was true!

“My wife also wanted to stay here. And since Leicester only offered me a one-year contract, while Vannes offered me two years and a nice project sporty at stake…”

Abendanon was even considering hanging up his boots. He told RugbyPass in mid-April that retirement was looking increasingly on the horizon. “In my mind now, that’s what is happening, it’s the end,” he said. “I’ve still got the desire and the motivation to play. So if I was forced to retire because of the pandemic, but still hungry, it would be a shame because something that is uncontrollable has forced my hand.”

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Clermont informed Abendanon in October they would not be keeping him on.  He was linked with Grenoble, Bath and there was even talk of an offer from San Diego Legion in America’s fledgeling professional league, but that didn’t materialise.

“I tried to get the Bath flame going and potentially go back there for a year,” he revealed. “I know the owner Bruce Craig and Stuart Hooper, the director of rugby, and it’s where I’m from.

“But for them, they have got some young guys coming through who deserve a chance and Tom Homer is there playing pretty good rugby at the moment so that one fizzled out pretty quickly as well. Apart from that, there hasn’t really been anything else.”

 

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