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'Very easy choice': Ex-England back Abendanon extends Pro D2 deal

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Boris Horvat/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Nick Abendanon adventure in France will continue until summer 2023 at the very least as the 35-year-old ex-England player has extended his existing deal at Pro D2 Vannes. It was at the height of the lockdown in 2020 when the 2015 European player of the year feared he would have to quit the sport.

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With the pandemic causing ructions in the recruitment market, Abendanon had been released by Clermont, his club since his 2014 switch from Bath, and was facing having to retire as he couldn’t find himself a new team.     

In the end, though, the waiting game he was forced to endure eventually paid off, Abendanon opting to join second-tier Vannes for the 2021/22 season where they came agonisingly close to securing promotion to the Top 14. They finished second on the table behind Perpignan and then lost out in the semi-final playoffs to Biarritz.  

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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots
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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots

Vannes’ fortunes haven’t been so giddy this term as they currently occupy eleventh spot on the table, 13 points behind Carcassonne in the sixth and final playoff spot with six games remaining. Despite that downturn in results, the Vannes relationship with Abendanon remains strong as he continues to pull out the performances, the full-back starting 14 matches and scoring five tries this term.  

A Vannes statement read: “It’s now official. Having arrived in 2020, Nick Abendanon will remain at Vannes until 2023. We are very happy to formalise our captain’s contract extension for a third season in Brittany.

“After starting his career in England at Bath, Nick played six Top 14 seasons at Clermont before joining RCV in 2020. This season again, our England full-back and captain has proven that time has no influence on his performances. Remarkable and exemplary throughout the year, he scored five tries in 14 games – all played as a starter.”

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Abendanon said: “I’m very happy to continue this adventure with Rugby Club Vannes. We are very happy here and with the ambition of the club, it was a very easy choice for me and my family.”

It was February 2021, in a feature interview with RugbyPass, when Abendanon candidly admitted he wasn’t the same player he was at Clermont but his time at Vannes had rekindled his love for rugby. “The first day I came to Vannes, I rocked up and they said, ‘This is where the training ground is’. It was a couple of makeshift tents and a couple of Portakabins and I was like, ‘Oh, what the hell have I done here?’

“But it’s quite refreshing in a way. All the guys, there are no big egos. Everyone is very grounded. They work very, very hard here, they are all very ambitious, they all want to do their best to get spotted and seen and hopefully play in the Top 14. It’s refreshing to come down a peg and re-find the love of the game, I guess.”

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