Tom Varndell: I’m ambitious and it’s a great time to join Bristol
England international looking forward to next chapter in his career after agreeing summer move to Aviva Premiership hopefuls
Tom Varndell believes Bristol Rugby matches his ambitions as he confirms a summer move to the Aviva Premiership promotion hopefuls.
The 29-year-old Wasps wing has become one of English rugby’s top try-scorers since joining the club six years ago from Leicester Tigers, but had agreed a two-year deal with the Championship outfit.
Bristol is a proud rugby city with a loyal fanbase. It’s a great time to join and I look forward to the next chapter of my career.
Enduring a lengthy spell out through injury last season after twice rupturing a bicep, Varndell has returned to form for the club this season, scoring six tries in eight Premiership appearances.
Under the leadership of former England head coach Andy Robinson, Bristol are unbeaten in their opening 10 rounds and expected to win promotion to the Premiership from the Greene King IPA Championship, as they were and failed to do last season when they were stunned by London Welsh in the final.
Despite their failings, the ambitious club had already agreed to sign a glut of international players, including Samoan trio David Lemi, Jack Lam and Anthony Perenise.
Promising Wales youngster Matthew Morgan also followed former Wales captain Ryan Jones to the club, as did their Ospreys and Wales team-mate Ian Evans, while Scotland flanker Ross Rennie made his loan move from Edinburgh permanent.
“I’m an ambitious person and I believe that Bristol Rugby — with the resources and vision that the club has — matches my ambition,” Varndell said.
“I’m excited about coming back to the city having studied at Colston’s Collegiate School.
“Bristol is a proud rugby city with a loyal fanbase. It’s a great time to join and I look forward to the next chapter of my career.
“I have had a fantastic time at Wasps and I thank the coaches, my team-mates and the supporters for making me so welcome for the past six years.
“We’ve still got a lot of exciting challenges ahead this season and I will be fully focused on doing all I can to help Wasps and the squad achieve our goals for the rest of this season.”
The prolific winger topped the try-scoring charts in the Premiership in 2005/06 and 2007/08 with 14 tries in each season while with the Tigers, and repeated the feat with Wasps in 2012/13 with 13 from 20 appearances.
Tom is one of the quickest players in world rugby and will suit the style of rugby that we are developing.
The England international has scored 81 tries in 166 Aviva Premiership matches for Leicester and Wasps, just six behind Sale Sharks wing Mark Cueto, and he could be in line to overtake him if he maintains his try-scoring form, something Wasps director of rugby Dai Young hopes will happen in Wasps colours.
“We’re delighted to be able to attract Tom’s services for next season,” Bristol director of rugby Andy Robinson told bristolrugby.co.uk.
“He’s a proven try-scorer who knows the Aviva Premiership inside out.
“Tom is one of the quickest players in world rugby and will suit the style of rugby that we are developing.
“His work-rate and attitude made him a firm favourite at London Wasps and I’m sure Bristol supporters will look forward to seeing him in the blue and white hoops.”
Wasps also confirmed today that back-row forward Will Helu will leave the club at the end of the season, while 34-year-old Coventry-born outside-half Andy Goode has been offered a coaching contract with his current playing deal set to expire in the summer.
Tom is a fans’ favourite here and I have no doubt that he will do everything in his power to produce his best in black and gold for the rest of the season.
Goode’s playing career looks to be over with Leinster outside-half Jimmy Gopperth set to join the club in the summer to challenge Scotland international Ruaridh Jackson for the 10 jersey.
The club are also expected to announce the signing to “excite Wasps and Aviva Premiership rugby fans” as their recruitment for the 2015/16 season continues.
“Tom Varndell has been fantastic for us since joining from Leicester Tigers in 2009, and he and Christian Wade have established a prolific partnership on the wing,” Young said.
“Tom will be tough to replace, but we understand it is a fantastic opportunity for him at Bristol and we wish him the best.
“Tom is a fans’ favourite here and I have no doubt that he will do everything in his power to produce his best in black and gold for the rest of the season.
“We also hope to see him break the record for tries scored in the Premiership whilst wearing the Wasps shirt.”