Dublin: 3°C Saturday 27 November 2021

France centre Mermoz opts to join Newcastle Falcons

The 30-year-old only signed a short-term deal with Leicester Tigers at the start of the month.

Mermoz last played for France in March of last year.
Mermoz last played for France in March of last year.
Image: David Davies

FRENCH INTERNATIONAL MAXIME Mermoz will join Newcastle Falcons in time for the start of the 2017/18 season following his short-term deal with English Premiership rivals Leicester.

The 30-year-old centre has previously won the domestic French Top 14 title with three different clubs in Toulouse, Perpignan and Toulon.

At Toulon, he also won two European Cups and played in a side featuring England great Jonny Wilkinson.

Newcastle was the club where Wilkinson launched his career and Mermoz said he was glad to have another link with the now retired fly-half.

“I am really happy to join the Falcons and I have been attracted by the ambitious plans of this historic club, which was the starting point of my former team-mate and legend Jonny Wilkinson,” Mermoz said in a Newcastle statement.

Mermoz, who won the last of his 35 France caps against England last year, added: “I expect to share my experience and bring my contribution to achieve the ambitious goals of the team. But I also come to learn and experience something new, and to enjoy my passion in an environment and culture deeply different from what I have known in France.

This is a big challenge, but really exciting and motivating. I love it, I feel grateful and want to pay back the trust shown in me by Newcastle Falcons,” explained Mermoz, a member of the France side beaten by New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup final in Auckland.

Newcastle’s recent seasons in the Premiership have mainly centred on top-flight survival but director of rugby Dean Richards said signing Mermoz was evidence the club, currently eighth in the 12-strong league, had greater ambitions.

“Maxime’s signing is a major statement of intent for Newcastle Falcons,” said Richards.

“We have been working hard over a long period of time to make this move happen and we are delighted that a player of such proven calibre is keen to play a key role in the ambitious plans we have for the club.

“The fact that he will spend the back half of this season with Leicester Tigers is ideal in the sense that he will already be accustomed to Aviva Premiership rugby by the time he arrives with us in the summer, and we are excited by what he will bring to the group,” the former Leicester and England number eight added.

As for Mermoz’s on-field qualities, Richards said: “He is a very intelligent centre who runs great lines, he has fantastic handling ability and his understanding of the game is first class.

“It is no coincidence he has won major trophies with every club he has been at, and the fact we have been able to attract a player of his standing in the game says a lot about the regard in which the Falcons are held at the moment.”

- © AFP, 2017

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Leinster captain Nacewa faces ‘a couple of weeks’ on the sidelines after knee surgery

Carbery makes first start in over two months as Cullen rings changes for Edinburgh

About the author:


Read next: