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Tug-of-war between French, Japanese clubs to sign Sale's Sam James

By Neil Fissler
Sale's Sam James is in demand overseas (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

Sale Sharks midfielder Sam James is at the heart of a tug-of-war between clubs in France and Japan after playing his last game for the Gallagher Premiership semi-finalists last weekend.

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The former Edgeley Park ballboy played 244 games for his boyhood club, but his Sharks career ended with last Saturday’s league semi-final defeat at the hands of Bath at The Rec.

The 29-year-old Manchester City fan, who made 28 appearances for the Sharks and scored four tries in his farewell season, had been linked with a move to the Pro D2 in France next season and was waiting to see who got promoted to the Top 14.

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Club player banned for life for this tackle on the referee

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Club player banned for life for this tackle on the referee

RugbyPass now understands that Paris giants Racing 92 have spoken to James about a switch to the French capital but they haven’t yet made him a formal contract offer.

The French club, who now have Stuart Lancaster in charge, are believed to be drawn to James’ versatility because he also plays full-back and flyhalf. However, they face serious competition from the Yokohama Canon Eagles, where he could reunite with Faf de Klerk, his former Sale teammate.

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James joined the Sharks in 2012 and made his debut the following season. He toured Argentina with England in 2017 and was named on the 2019 Premiership dream team after playing every minute of that season’s campaign.

He picked up a Premiership Rugby Cup final winners medal alongside de Klerk four years ago and has admitted he will always support the club even though he now wants to move on.

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“I have grown up supporting this club, and to even play one game was genuinely a dream come true,” he said recently. “From being a ball-boy to making my debut, it has been amazing and I promise you, I don’t take it for granted for one second.

“I’ll always be a Sale Sharks supporter, and the decision to leave has been a really tough one, not just me but my whole family. But the time is right to take on a new challenge.”

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