Jamie Noon has revealed he is planning to stay in France and forge a career as a professional rugby agent.
The former England, Newcastle Falcons and Brive centre retired this year after 14 seasons as a player, but has grown so fond of life in the Correze that he is pursuing all avenues to stay there.
“It depends on the job prospects but I am sitting my RFU exams to become an agent, and am trying to do the same thing with the French union,” said the 34-year-old. “I guess with France being where the top players in the world seem to be coming then it makes sense to look at that as an option for being an agent, and from a lifestyle point of view we just love living out here.”
Having made more than 200 appearances during his decade at Newcastle, winning 38 England caps, he said: “When we made the decision to come out to Brive back in 2010 there were always risks attached to that, and it was a trip into the unknown. The first six months were tough with the language and different lifestyle, and had we struggled long-term with that our time here would have been shorter.
“But we are at home here now,our kids are bilingual, and weenjoy the life we have with the locals in our little village just outside the town.
“The rugby was a lot different at first. Not the games necessarily, but the culture. In France the players are at the club for much longer during the day, even though they probably do a similar amount of work.
“Here the day includes a massive lunch, and a few of the lads would have a glass of wine or a siesta in between sessions. You just get used to it.”
Revealing former Brive team-mate and current Falcons scrum-half Mike Blair’s role in his new-found direction, Noon joked: “It was Mikey who got me into it, probably without realising. When he signed for Brive a year or so ago I had to do everything for him – finding him a house, opening his mail every day. I was basically looking after him, and it made me think about being an agent as a career.”
Finally taking to a rugby field again last weekend, he added: “I have signed for a local club, called Tulle, but studying for the agents’ exams and going fishing on a regular basis is keeping me busy, not to mention the kids!”