LONDON Welsh head coach Lyn Jones has strengthened his front row options by signing former Wasps Heineken Cup winner Tom French.
French played a starring role in Wasps’ 2007 Heineken Cup final victory over Leicester Tigers at Twickenham, in what was only his second appearance for the club’s first-team. The 28-year-old loosehead prop joins Welsh from National League 1 side Barking, where he made nine appearances this season as player-coach.
French spent nine seasons at Wasps, who he joined straight from Harrow school, and made his debut against Stade Francais in the Zurich Challenge Cup in 2003. He came off the bench for Wasps’ reserves against Leicester in the Guinness ALeague final, and two weeks later was lining up against the Tigers again at Twickenham – this time in the Heineken Cup final. That established French as a first-team regular at Adams Park.
In 2009/10, however, French gained Championship experience during a loan spell atNottingham, when he was drafted in by the Green & Whites as emergency front row cover. He enjoyed a further spell at Meadow Lane last season, which included appearances off the bench against Welsh in the Exiles’ 27-21 win at Meadow Lane and in the Green & Whites’ 22-13 victory at Old Deer Park in the return fixture.
French represented England at Under-18 and Under-21, with whom he won a Grand Slam in 2004, and toured the USA with the Saxons in 2008. He made his Saxons debut in the 36-19 win over Scotland A at Toyota Park, Chicago.
Jones said: “Tom comes from a very good background at Wasps. He has a proven pedigree and has fitted well into our squad in a short period of time, so much so that we were delighted to offer him a full-time opportunity.
“We have lots of talented front row players at London Welsh and Tom’s experience will prove invaluable in helping the younger boys develop their game in a very toughscrummaging league that the Championship is proving to be.”