La Rochelle finally confirm the signing of England international after months of speculation

Jared Wright
Ex-England and Exeter Chiefs who will join La Rochelle winger England's Jack Nowell warms up on the pitch before an Autumn International at Twickenham Stadium.

Ex-England and Exeter Chiefs winger England's Jack Nowell warms up on the pitch before an Autumn International at Twickenham Stadium.

Former Exeter Chiefs winger Jack Nowell has officially been unveiled as Top 14 heavyweight side La Rochelle’s newest signing.

Nowell joins the Champions Cup holders after 12 years at Premiership outfit Exeter Chiefs.

Leaving Exeter Chiefs

The 30-year-old back bid Exeter farewell at the end of last season, having played over 170 matches for the club, the last of which coming against his new employers in the 2022/23 Champions Cup semi-finals.

“Deciding to leave the Chiefs was one of the hardest positions I have ever been in,” Nowell said after his final game for Exeter in May. “But, if I’m honest, during the Covid times, the club decided to look after us and our families, and like we are seeing with every Premiership club, there comes a time when wage does come into it.

“A lot of the other clubs got hit during Covid, and for us as a club, we are being hit now. I have got a growing family, and I have got to put them first at times. That is what made it so hard to leave Chiefs; how much I love the club, I love the coaches, I love everything about it, but I have got to look after my family.

“My family is growing, and for me it was my time to take that pay cut. [But] was it the right time for my family [to take a pay cut]? Certainly not.”

He won two Premiership titles and a Champions Cup crown during his time with Exeter, doing the double in 2020.

He also earned 46 international caps for England and played in two Tests for the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

The move to La Rochelle has been long touted, but the Top 14 club only confirmed the news on Wednesday.

La Rochelle’s signings


Nowell will be available to La Rochelle throughout the season, having ruled himself out of contention for England’s squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

His move also makes him ineligible for selection after the tournament.

He joins the side coached by former Ireland fly-half Ronan O’Gara, who have made some sharp signings despite their success last season.

Joining Nowell at the club is Clermont stalwart Judicaël Cancoriet, who spent at eight years at his former employers.

The four-Test cap French flanker heads to the south-western coastal city along with Racing 92 scrum-half Teddy Iribaren.

Also joining the side is Ihaia West, who returns to La Rochelle after just one season with Toulon. Despite winning the Challenge Cup with the side, he was granted an early release from his contract to rejoin O’Gara’s squad.

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