Ex-England star Lawes to play in France from next season

Former England flanker Courtney Lawes will leave Northampton and join France second-tier side CA Brive at the end of the season.

Lawes, 35, retired from international duty after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France after earning 105 caps for his country.

He has played over 270 times for Northampton since making his debut in 2007 and said it was a difficult decision to leave his hometown club.

"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."

Lawes and Northampton won the Premiership Rugby title in 2014 and are top of the table after 12 games this season.

"I'm so grateful for everything that Saints has given to me. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to play so long for my hometown, and the supporters have been amazing through it all - in both the good times and the bad," Lawes added.

"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. It's obviously incredibly sad for me to be leaving, but ultimately, I know I am leaving Saints in really good hands on and off the pitch with the players, coaches and staff we have."

With England, Lawes won three Six Nations titles including a Grand Slam in 2016 and was part of the side that made 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Japan, where they lost to South Africa.