Flood and Cockerill heading to France?

For Leicester Tigers fans, it has not been a good day at the rumour mill. Reports have emerged from France suggesting both their captain and Director of Rugby are being lined up for moves across the Channel ahead of next season.

First, fly-half and club captain Toby Flood is apparently being courted by Toulon, Toulouse and Clermont Auvergne, according to reports from RugbyRama. The England international’s contract is up at the end of the season, and he has recently stated that he is in no rush to sign a new one. Obviously, the Tigers will be working as hard as possible to keep him at the club, but with Owen Farrell elevating himself to first choice on the international scene and the emergence of Freddie Burns, Flood may decide that the time is right for a big payday as he approaches the end of his career. He certainly wouldn’t be the first.

The three French giants are all looking to replace their current options at 10. Jonny Wilkinson, at Toulon, is largely expected to retire at the end of this season. At Toulouse, Luke McCalister and Lionel Beauxis are both out of contract this year – the former blows too hot and cold, while the latter is not the big name player a club like Toulouse demand. At Clermont, Brock James is superlative when on form, but has a tendency to go missing in the big games. His future is far from certain.

And speaking of Clermont, les Jaune et Bleu have reportedly included Flood’s DOR, Richard Cockerill, on a shortlist of contenders to replace the outgoing Vern Cotter, according to reports in regional paper La Montagne. Cockerill is under contract until 2015 and has never expressed a desire to leave the club with whom he has such strong ties, but it is worth noting that Clermont are the only other club he has ever played for – his son was even born there, so it is a place he would feel comfortable.

The reports of Cockerill moving are speculative at best, even if he does know the set-up there. He is part of the furniture at the Tigers and has never expressed a desire to leave. That said, with the English clubs increasingly struggling to compete with their French counterparts in Europe under their more stringent salary cap, the lure of being able to attract any player in world rugby could be tempting. Of course, this presupposes that there is a European competition to play in over the next few seasons.

The Flood rumours make more sense. With his international career seemingly dwindling, and the opportunity to play in a new environment for more money, why wouldn’t he consider it? Certainly, it has worked for Englishmen in his situation before him, not least Wilkinson, the man he could replace at Toulon. If he fancied bending his old mentor’s ear about all this, Wilko would undoubtedly only have positive things to say about moving to the South of France. He has enjoyed some of the best rugby of his life there.

Whatever happens it is nervous times for Leicester Tigers fans this season, as they wait to discover the future of their two most important men.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

16 thoughts on “Flood and Cockerill heading to France?

  1. Whilst I can understand Flood leaving; it would be foolish of SL to just let him go. He is the most experienced player in the England squad by a long way, and whilst he has never set the world alight, he is definitely a good international player at worst. Farrell and Burns have promising futures but I would not be comfortable with what else is around if either of those two got injured or lost form.

  2. Whilst I agree with your comment Jacob- the only way SL can stop Flood going is by either by starting him much more often or convincing him that he will be involved regularly at the 2015 RWC above the likes of Burns and Ford. One might say if he is playing well then he will get his chance, but that simply isn’t the case. Farrell was poor for Saracens last season and played a lot in the centres yet he was still the no.1 10 for England. Flood on the other hand was consistently good and on club form deserved to be above Farrell for England, yet all he got was 80 minutes against Italy and didn’t even get on in Dublin. I reckon not getting selected for the Lions irritated Flood as all round he is as good if not a better player than Flood, its just seems that he gets injured at the wrong time. When England beat the ABs, he got injured the week before meaning OF started and never lost the shirt, which probably cost Flood a shot at the Lions.

    Lancaster won’t want to let Flood go to France as he wants as many quality players to pick from as possible. But with OF seemingly number 1 and Burns having a very good summer tour I, Lancaster may be powerless as he can’t actually do anything but persuade him to stay.

  3. Dave is correct, but not assertive enough- Farrell is demonstrably shit. It frustrates me that such an average player has seemingly cemented such an important position when there are so many players who could bring far more to the role (Flood, Burns, Ford and Darren Garforth to name but three) It stinks of nepotism and pandering to the press.

    1. Like. Anything they increases the distance between me and Le Cock (as be will hopefully be named over there) can only be a good thing.

  4. I wouldn’t like to comment on Flood going. I’d like to say I doubt it, but he might need some assurance of his place in the England squad to turn down such a move. I suspect he’ll stay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he took the opportunity.

    Cockers on the other hand I don’t see going. 21 year history with Leicester, bar two years at Montferrand. Never mind loyalty to the club, I just think he’d be way too settled to consider going.

  5. I think Flood is a good player, but like some have already said here, he has not exactly ever sparkled on the international stage. His departure however would damage England’s talent options at fly half for which he has done a solid job just about often enough. It’s unfortunate that Cockril however isn’t rumoured to be off to somewhere further afield (is it too late to book in with Bob Geldoff and enter space?). Anyway why the hate on Farrell? I think he’s top class!

    1. I think there’s a lot of Farrell hate because he’s not interesting. He sits back, kicks goals and doesn’t do a whole lot of good distribution.

      Flood has hardly sparkled on the world stage, but I think to an extent it’s part of what’s very good about him. He’s vastly underrated and then he’s breaking the gainline and getting the ball away. I think his style of play is significantly better than Farrell’s and I suspect with the new scrum laws likely meaning fewer penalties England are going to need to find someone who crosses the gainline better and makes tries

      1. Remember that one Farrell game for the Lions where he was exciting though? We all wondered what he’d do when he went back to Sarries? I guess that question has been answered then.

        1. xxxwookie and brighty. I was at Twickers last week for the double header, and I can tell you that Farrell had a cracking game! He took the ball to the line much more than he did last season, and he looked to be playing the same way he did in that Lions game. He even feigned a couple of times and really took on the Irish defence. It was a far more impressive Farrell display than normal, and his defence and kicking were top notch as well. If he can play like that for England, I can’t see him losing the shirt just yet.

          1. Agree with Dazza here. I was at Twickenham as well and he looked far more comfortable with the ball in his hands. The inside ball to George for his second try was very good; I actually assumed it wasn’t him at first. It genuinely was…crazy!

  6. Flood is a good player. He is no Dan Carter, but I have always admired what he brings to teams. I have long thought that Brock James is the weak link in an excellent Clermont side, and I think that Flood / Clermont would be a very good match.

    I am sure that Flood still could do a good job for England. But do England need him?

    They have Farrell and Burns. Then they have Ford, and even Botica as the next, next generation. He may not consider himself even the 3rd choice, so he would be mad not to jump at the chance of earning a load of French €.

    For him, I see no down-side.

    Joe Schmidt > Vern Cotter > Richard Cockerill? Hmm, that doesn’t seem right to me.

  7. Agree with the comments regarding Flood’s English future. If SL tells him he is still in his plans and also plays him, Flood will probably stay. Otherwise he’d be foolish not to take the paycheck. Let’s just remember that his England career has been mainly sound with some good ones and bad ones thrown in but never spectacular. Is he likely to be in front of Farrell or Burns at the next RWC. Probably not. They should both still be improving over the next few years and Ford has shown that he made the right move too.

  8. Just seen the news confirming that Croft is out for the entire season. Oh dear!! So Wood gets the 6 shirt for England, but who plays 7?? Robshaw, Kvesic? Or could Lancaster play Billy V at 6 and Wood at 7?

    1. Really not good news for England. One of the few world class players we have.

      I’d go with Wood at 6, and Robshaw/Kvesic selection will depend on the next month. Neither of them really impressed in the first game of the reason. I’d rather see Kvesic play, but Robshaw is safer.

      Billy V is the perfect back row sub. He carries impact and now versatility with him covering 6/8.

    2. My guess is Wood will be at 6 and I would’ve thought as captain. Kvesic at 7 for Argentina and Robshaw at 7 for Aus. If Robshaw plays well vs Aus he plays against NZ, if Kvesic has a blinder vs Argentina then gamble on him against McCaw.

      vs Aus- Wood, Robshaw, Morgan. Kvesic bench.

      vs Arg- Wood, Kvesic, Vunipola. Morgan bench.

      vs NZ- Wood, Robshaw/Kvesic, Morgan. Vunipola/Robshaw/Kvesic

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