One England international departs for France, another set to follow as Premiership exodus continues – report

Colin Newboult
England's Lewis Ludlam alongside centre Manu Tuilagi during the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

England's Lewis Ludlam alongside centre Manu Tuilagi during the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

England hooker Jack Singleton is in Toulon for his medical ahead of a proposed move from Gloucester, while back-row Lewis Ludlam is set to follow him.

French outlets L’Equipe and Var-martin are both reporting that the front-rower, who has three caps for the Red Rose, could be playing against Pau in the Top 14 this weekend if all goes to plan.

Injuries to Anthony Etrillard and Teddy Baubigny have left Toulon short at hooker, and Singleton has been seen as the ideal player to cover that position.

Length of absence

Etrillard is a long-term absence while a broken hand for Baubigny, sustained in training on Friday, will likely see him out of action for between five and six weeks.

Director of rugby Pierre Mignoni spoke about their crisis in the front-row following their victory over Castres in the Top 14 on Saturday.

“We are in a bit of a hurry but we are not going to take someone for the sake of taking someone,” he said.

Singleton will join as a ‘medical joker’, acting as injury cover in the short-term, but that could be made permanent further down the line.

The England Test player only signed a new deal with Gloucester in May, but he has competition in his position from George McGuigan and Santiago Socino.

The 27-year-old recently started against Sale Sharks in their Premiership clash but has only featured twice so far this season.

Lewis Ludlam also on the move

Singleton is not the only Red Rose international that is set to transfer to Toulon, with The Telegraph reporting that Ludlam has agreed a deal with the French outfit.

His departure would be of more concern for head coach Steve Borthwick, who likes the versatility and reliability he offers the squad.

Ludlam featured in four Rugby World Cup games in France, including the all-important pool encounter against Argentina and the Bronze Final, which was also against Los Pumas.

The 27-year-old covers all three positions in the back-row and was one the country’s stars during the 2023 Six Nations campaign.

He came through the academy at Northampton Saints and has been an ever-present in the XV over the past few seasons, but Toulon can offer both more money and a longer-term contract.

It continues the trend of English Test players moving overseas due to the financial issues in the Premiership, which saw three clubs enter administration in 2022/23.

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