Leicester's Toby Flood seals move to Toulouse at the end of the season
Toby Flood will move to Top 14 giants Toulouse at the end of the current season, according to reports in the French media.
The fly-half, capped 60 times for England, apparently informed his Leicester Tigers teammates that he would be moving to the French club – the most successful side in the Heineken Cup, with four titles – in a group email earlier this week.
"According to our information ... Toby Flood has chosen to commit to Stade Toulousain," RMC Sport reported on Thursday evening. The stand-off had two offers on the table, with Toulon – where his former Newcastle Falcons team-mate and long-term mentor turned rival Jonny Wilkinson is captain – also vying for his signature.
"He had to make his choice before the end of the month and announced his departure from Leicester (who had also hoped to extend his contract). That's what he did today."
The switch means the 28-year-old has effectively ruled himself out of England's World Cup plans when the Webb Ellis Trophy will be contested on home turf in 2015. Flood's international influence has been marginalised in the Stuart Lancaster reign, with 22-year-old Owen Farrell handed the No10 jersey.
The confirmation will mean that Leicester will ramp up their efforts to bring in a replacement for Flood, who has been at Tigers for six years following his move from Newcastle.
Earlier this month Richard Cockerill, Leicester Tigers' director of rugby, admitted that Gloucester’s England international Freddie Burns and Wales international Rhys Priestland are in their sights, with both players out of contract in the summer.
“By early in the New Year we need to know what Toby is going to do,” Cockerill said. “That’s not because we are putting the heat on him, it’s because, if he is not going to stay, then we need to find another person or spend that money on a different position, whether that’s full-back or a wing.
“He’s 28 and if he thinks his England career is over or he is not going to be first choice for England or get the opportunity to be first choice for England and if he wants to cash in by going to France I can understand that.”
Cockerill added: “It would be remiss of us not to go out there and see what is in the market. Freddie Burns is out of contract, Rhys Priestland is out of contract and there are one or two players out of contract in the Southern Hemisphere and in France, so we are looking at lots of people."