Bury St Edmunds sign Premiership's all-time leading try-scorer and former England international Tom Varndell
Bury St Edmunds fans can look forward to watching the Premiership’s all-time leading try-scorer, Tom Varndell, strut his stuff at the GK IPA Haberden next season.
The 34-year-old England-capped former Leicester Tigers and Wasps winger had been playing in the second tier Championship with Yorkshire Carnegie when the coronavirus outbreak saw the 2019/20 season abandoned.
But his past links with Bury’s performance director Terry Sands has led him to agree to drop down two levels to commence cutting his teeth as a coach, while also finishing off his playing career.
“To be honest Tom was going to be our celebrity at our 7s and I got talking to him because I know him from when I was England 7s manager,” said Sands.
“I asked him what he was doing this year and he said he wanted to get into coaching having now stopped playing full time on a professional basis.
“Of course, I took the chance to seize the opportunity and suggested to Tom we could help with the next part of his journey and it all came together.
“It was not about money for him, it was all about the opportunity with us.”
With travelling from Bristol proving a factor in former Irish international Kevin Maggs no longer being able to offer his services to the team, Sands revealed Varndell’s integration will come at the right time.
The player who made seven appearances for England between 2005 to 2008 will be the skills and attack coach.
“It is great for all the youngsters to have someone like him at the club. It is an unbelievable opportunity for them,” said Sands.
“He always has time for people and it will be all about what some of our players’ aspirations are, as they will be able to speak to him and soak up all his knowledge and experience.”
He added: “It is fantastic for the club and it is fantastic for our supporters, including all of our volunteers and sponsors that have supported the club over the years.”
There is also another change to the Pro-Am coaching set up ahead of next season with Jono Farmer, who had been Thetford’s head coach, coming on board to work with the forwards, as well as being the development XV head coach.
Sands said of Farmer, who spent half a year playing for them under Gavin Hogg, before injury struck: “He was at Thurston for a while andthen Thetford for two years and has come to us because we are seen as a developmental club, also using the opportunity as part of his coaching journey.”
As previously revealed, Nick Wakley has agreed a new deal to stay at the Haberden and continues as director of rugby and head coach. All the other positions in the set-up remain unchanged.
More by this authorRussell Claydon