Connacht and Ireland lock Quinn Roux signs two-year deal with Toulon

Tighthead prop Conor Kenny leaves Sportsground for Newcastle Falcons

Toulon confirmed that they have signed Quinn Roux, a move that was widely forecast. Last month, the 30-year-old ended a nine-year stint in Irish rugby, two seasons with Leinster and seven with Connacht, and the French Top 14 club today announced that Roux is one of nine new signings for next season after agreeing a two-year deal.

Connacht had sought to retain Roux but were unable reach an agreement with the lock, whose 106th and last game for the province was in January, after which a shoulder injury ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

Roux was signed by Joe Schmidt at Leinster from Western Province in 2012, before he switched to Connacht on loan at the start of the 2014/15 season, a move which was made permanent a year later. He made his Irish Test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2016 and won the last of his 16 Test caps in the concluding Autumn Nations Cup win over Scotland last December.

Toulon, the three-time winners of the Heineken Champions Cup, have failed to qualify for next season’s tournament after losing away to Castres 46-24 on the final day of the regular season as the latter climbed above them into seventh place. As Montpellier have qualified by dint of winning the Challenge Cup, that is the European competition Toulon will be playing in ext season.

Patrice Collazo also confirmed that the club have signed Kieran Brookes (Wasps), Adrien Warion, Lopeti Timani (Stade Rochelais), Cornell Du Preez (Worcester), Julien Blanc (CA Brive), Jules Danglot (Montpellier Hérault Rugby), Jiuta Wainigolo (Fiji) and Thomas Salles (Stade Aurillacois). Mathieu Smaïli, loaned to Stade Montois, will also return to Toulon.

They also confirmed a number of departures, namely Jérémy Boyadjis, Sébastien Taofifenua, Luka Tchelidze, Théo Lachaud, Levi Douglas, Romain Taofifenua, Thomas Hoarau, Anthony Méric, Ma’a Nonu, Isaïa Toeava, Masivesi Dakuwaqa and Rudi Wulf.

Meanwhile, on foot of 23-year-old centre Seán O'Brien joining Exeter from Connacht, the 24-year-old prop Conor Kenny has also moved from the western province in joining Newcastle Falcons in a two-year deal.

The 125kg prop played 11 times for Connacht, all but one off the bench, and having come through the West Offaly Lions and Buccaneers, also represented Ireland at U18, U19 and U20 levels. But after coming through the Connacht academy and signing a one-year professional contract he was released by the province.

"I'm really excited about coming over," Kenny told the Falcons club website. "When I first spoke to Newcastle's director of rugby Dean Richards a little while back I was very taken by where he wants the club to go, and it sounds like we have the same mindset. I want to play for a guy like that at a club with those values, and it always felt like a good fit."

Explaining his rugby journey, the 24-year-old tighthead said: “I first started playing rugby when I was 10 or 11, and went on to play age-grade rugby with Connacht and Ireland.

“I got into Connacht’s academy and was playing a bit for my home club, Buccaneers. I didn’t start taking rugby seriously as a career option until probably the final year of my academy, but once I’d played a few professional games I felt like a different person and just threw myself into it.

“It’s been a long journey, but everything appears to be going in an upward direction now.”

Falcons director of rugby Richards added: “Conor is a very promising tighthead who will add to the competition we have in our frontrow.

“We look forward to his arrival, and I’m confident he can show up well at this level.”