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Toulon confirm worst kept transfer secret of the season

By Neil Fissler
Maro Itoje, Lewis Ludlam and Jack Walker of England sing the National Anthem during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium on March 11, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images )

Toulon have finally officially confirmed the worst-kept news of last season. They are taking England stars Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam to the Cote d’Azur this summer.


Bristol Bears tight-head Sinckler, 31, who started his career with Harlequins and has won 69 England caps and another seven for The Lions on two tours, arrives on a three-year deal.

A World Cup finalist in 2019 and a member of Steve Borthwick’s squad that finished third in France last year, he admitted that he was honoured to represent a club as special as Toulon.

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A bitterly disappointed Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White produces a few post-match pearlers

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A bitterly disappointed Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White produces a few post-match pearlers

“I will give the best of myself to represent the Red & Black jersey with dignity. I also want to test myself in the best championship and against the best props every weekend and to be able to contribute to Toulon’s future successes.”

Toulon’s sporting director, Laurent Emmanuelli, added: “Kyle is a player who combines power, skill and explosiveness. He is aware of the consequent challenge that awaits him in Top 14.”

Meanwhile, back-row Ludlam, 28, has also signed a three-year deal fresh from helping Northampton Saints lift the Premiership trophy against Bath at Twickenham.

The 6’3, 111kg Ludlam, who can play anywhere across the back row, was tipped for the Lions tour to Australia. He made 126 appearances for Saints, his only club, and was capped 24 times by England.


Emmanuelli admitted that Ludlam was a player they had been interested in for some time and are finally glad to have completed the signing.

“Lewis is a player we have been following for some time. Always present at the forefront of the fight, a good defender, able to provide solutions in touch and scratch balls, Lewis is one of the players of character as our supporters love them. “He also has significant leadership qualities since he has been the captain of the Saints for three seasons now.”



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BigMaul 25 days ago

Who was tipping Ludlam for the Lions? No disrespect meant, but he couldn’t even lock down an England place.

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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