England back Henry Arundell hit the ground sprinting in France, scoring a sensational hat-trick on debut for Racing 92.
The 21-year-old joined the French club after London Irish entered administration at the end of the 2022/23 season and made his first appearance in the Top 14 on Sunday.
Arundell has scored seven tries in 10 appearances for England, five of which came in the 71-0 World Cup victory over Chile – his tournament debut for the Red Rose.
He only featured again in England’s final game of the tournament, the Bronze Final against Argentina, where he failed to register a single carry.
Three against Toulon
However, he was far more involved in his debut for Racing 92 against Toulon as he gained over 90 metres from his five carries, scoring three tries.
It took 36 minutes for the England star to open his Top 14 scoring account; he received the ball from full-back Max Spring outside the Toulon 22.
With Spring’s pass creating the overlap, Arundell sped into a gap, leaving Wallabies fly-half Noah Lolesio in his wake. He eased past scrum-half Baptiste Serin and won the race with Setariki Tuicuvu to score in the corner.
That score finally got Racing back into the game after falling 18-0 behind in the opening 30 minutes of the encounter. A try on either side of half-time put Toulon even further ahead, with the Parisian side trailing the hosts 28-7.
A Lolesio penalty extended Toulon’s lead to 24 points, but Racing would launch a late comeback in an attempt to steal a win at the Stade Mayol.
Arundell grabbed his second in the 60th minute after he got on the end of a deft grubber kick from fly-half Antoine Gibert and managed to dive over in the corner.
He would complete his hat-trick just seven minutes later; he received the ball on the right wing after a lovely flowing attack from Racing.
With just Lolesio to beat out wide, the winger skinned the Australian international and raced around him to give his kicker an easy two points with the conversion.
However, that would be Racing’s final contribution to the overall score as Toulon sealed the 31-26, with the Parisian side claiming an unlikely losing bonus point.
Arundell still eligible for England
Arundell has been granted “special circumstances” eligibility for the 2024 Six Nations and is in contention to be one of England’s starting wingers.
Elliot Daly and Jonny May were the starters for Steve Borthwick’s side during the World Cup, but May has since announced his retirement from international rugby.
Arundell will face stiff competition as Freddie Steward may feature on the wing once again after Marcus Smith started at full-back in two games at the World Cup, while Anthony Watson is also set to have returned from injury by then.
As for Racing 92, they now sit third overall on the league table after six rounds, winning four of their matches.
They face rivals and league leaders Stade Francais in the Paris derby this weekend, where double Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi is set to make his debut for his new club.