'Legend' Vunipola Joins French side Vannes

Former England prop Mako Vunipola has joined newly promoted French Top 14 side Vannes on a two-year deal.

Saracens already announced the departure of both Vunipola brothers at the end of last season, with Billy also linked to the Top 14 to join Montpellier.

Mako, 33, spent 13 years at Sarries where he won four Premiership titles and three European Champions Cups.

"A real legend of English rugby," Vannes said in a statement.

"By committing to Vannes, Mako Vunipola will have his first experience of playing abroad and will discover the Top 14."

In January, the prop announced his retirement from international rugby, winning the last of his 79 caps against Ireland in March 2023.

This came after the three-time British and Irish Lions tourist was ruled out of England's 2023 World Cup squad with a back problem.

Vunipola appeared at two World Cups and started England's World Cup final defeat by South Africa in 2019.

He joins a number of players from that successful England squad, who also won a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016, in moving to France for next season.

Former England captain Owen Farrell, Vunipola's ex-Saracens team-mate, will play for Racing 92, with flanker Courtney Lawes joining 1997 Champions Cup winners Brive.

Centre Manu Tuilagi, who is moving to Bayonne, and Jonny May, signed by Soyaux-Angouleme, also started the 2019 World Cup final.

England prop Kyle Sinckler and flanker Lewis Ludlam also make the switch to France after both signed for three-time Champions Cup winners Toulon.

Flanker Jack Willis, who won the double with Toulouse last season, Stade Francais centre Joe Marchant and Racing winger Henry Arundell have all already played in the Top 14, having committed themselves to futures away from England after the 2023 World Cup.