Ben France regrets turning down rugby contract

SUFFOLK all-rounder Ben France said he now regrets not taking up the opportunity to play professional rugby.

Although he subsequently spent two years as a first-class cricketer with Derbyshire, France says he will always wonder whether he made the wrong choice after representing England Under-18s at rugby as a fly-half.

France, who went to school in Bromsgrove, said: “At the age of 18 I was offered a contract with Worcester Rugby Club, who were one league below the Premiership.

“But I turned it down as the overseas player at my cricket club at the time offered me the chance to go and play in Australia.

“I do have regrets that maybe I made the wrong decision as players I played with like Andy Goode and Harry Ellis have since made their full England debuts.”

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France, whose family subsequently moved to Frinton, spent five years playing first grade cricket for Sydney Parramatta and North Sydney during the English winters furthering his cricketing education.

He made his Suffolk debut in 2003 and his form the following season – he was the second highest run-scorer in the whole of the Minor Counties – earned him a two-year contract with Derbyshire, but he was released at the end of his second season and returned to play for Suffolk.

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France, who has played locally for Bury St Edmunds (twice), Colchester & East Essex, Copdock & Old Ipswichian, is now in his second season at Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League side Clacton and his first as skipper.

After spending two years at Ipswich School working as a groundsman and cricket and rugby coach, France is now in his second year as cricket professional at Framlingham College.

France, who took over the post from former England fast bowler Paul Jarvis, said: “Framlingham College is a wonderful place to work. I coach the first team and also at Brandeston Hall prep school taking youngsters from five-years upwards, and then coach rugby in the winter.”

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