Rugby

Courtney Lawes to join Brive in summer after accepting ‘transformational’ offer

Lawes said there was ‘no way’ he could turn down the offer from the French second-tier side.

Courtney Lawes will leave Northampton at the end of the season
Courtney Lawes Courtney Lawes will leave Northampton at the end of the season (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Courtney Lawes has accepted a lucrative deal to join French second-division club Brive that will see him depart Northampton at the end the season.

Lawes will bring down the curtain on his illustrious career overseas after accepting a “transformational” offer that Saints – his only club in 17 years as a professional – were unable to match.

The 35-year-old flanker has followed up an impressive 2023 World Cup with his outstanding form in this season’s Gallagher Premiership and Northampton were keen to keep him at Franklin’s Gardens.

But former England captain Lawes, who announced his Test retirement in October, has reluctantly made the decision to join the growing number of English players heading across the Channel.

“I want to make it clear that I really would have liked to end my career as a one-club man and Saints did absolutely everything they possibly could to make that happen – our conversations were all very positive,” Lawes said.

“But first and foremost I have to make sure that my family and I are in the best position possible for my retirement, which will be in the next couple of years.

“This is likely to be the last contract I’ll ever sign and the offer I have received to play overseas will be transformational for my family, so there was no way I could turn it down and I took the decision to move away from Northampton.

Courtney Lawes announced his England retirement at the end of last autumn’s World Cup
Courtney Lawes announced his England retirement at the end of last autumn's World Cup Courtney Lawes announced his England retirement at the end of last autumn’s World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

“I’ve been through it all with Saints and I just hope that my efforts on the pitch have reflected my appreciation for the club.”

Lawes, a physical and athletic back five forward who has played in four World Cups, has made 274 appearances for Northampton so far, on top of winning 105 caps for England and a further five for the British and Irish Lions.

Saints have suffered more than most clubs from the exodus of players to France, with Lewis Ludlam also leaving at the end of the season, while David Ribbans and Dan Biggar have already departed.

“Clearly it’s very disappointing that Courtney has decided to leave, but it’s a decision he has made with the long-term future of his family in mind, which we fully understand and respect,” chief executive Mark Darbon said.

Courtney Lawes won his 100th cap for England in August
Courtney Lawes won his 100th cap for England in August Courtney Lawes won his 100th cap for England in August

“We obviously wanted Courtney to stay and we made him a significantly increased offer to remain part of our squad.

“But given this will probably be his last ever contract and the incredible service he has already given to the club over the last 17 seasons, no-one can begrudge him accepting a very substantial alternative offer to finish his career overseas.

“Given the financial challenges that we, like all Premiership clubs, are still navigating, ultimately we just could not compete with the transformational scale of the offer Courtney has received.”