Two key members of Steve Borthwick’s England Rugby World Cup squad have reportedly signed deals to leave the Premiership.
Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam have reportedly sealed moves away from Bristol Bears and Northampton Saints, respectively, in another blow to the Premiership and the England squad.
England duo head for the Top 14
According to a report by L’Equipe, both Sinckler and Ludlam have inked deals to join Top 14 outfit Toulon ahead of the 2024/25 season, a move that – under current regulations – would make them ineligible for England selection.
It would likely make them unavailable for selection for the 2025 British and Irish Lions, too, with Sinckler having been picked for the last two tours to New Zealand and South Africa.
The pair have reportedly signed three-year deals with Toulon, where they would link up with fellow England World Cup squad member David Ribbans, who has arrived at the club since England’s third-place finish.
It’s another hammer blow for Borthwick, who will be without the likes of Ribbans, Jack Willis and Joe Marchant for the 2024 Six Nations and will be unable to select Sinckler and Ludlam after the conclusion of the 2023/24 season if they complete their moves to France.
On a positive note, Borthwick will be able to select rising star Henry Arundell during the upcoming Six Nations campaign, but if he remains at Racing 92 beyond the current season, that will change.
Tighthead prop Sinckler was a key member of the Red Rose squad during the World Cup, featuring in five of their seven matches, racking up 183 minutes on the pitch.
27-year-old back-rower Ludlam played in four matches, notching up 150 minutes, but was regular for Borthwick during the 2023 Six Nations, playing all five of their Tests.
Meanwhile, Anthony Watson will be available to Borthwick after he secured a deal with Leicester Tigers this week.
The outside back was linked with several clubs in France and was initially selected in the World Cup squad before injury struck.