Former Northamton Saints second row Ben Kelland signs for French Top 14 side Pau

Ben Kelland

Ben Kelland - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk schoolboy will say au revoir to the UK this summer, after landing a dream deal with a French Top-14 team.

Ben Kelland

Ben Kelland - Credit: Archant

Eighteen-year-old Ben Kelland, a pupil at Framlingham College, has signed a two-year deal with Pau.

The Colchester-born second row was released by Northampton Saints in March, having been with the Franklin’s Gardens club since the age of 12, and turned down the chance to stay in England, with Gloucester, to move across the Channel.

“I am very excited to get out there – playing in France is something that I have always wanted to do – it will be a different challenge and experience,” said Kelland.

“I was going to go down to Clermont and they were going to give me a contract, but then they revealed they were not signing anymore foreign players, so I elected to go to Pau.”

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Pau finished in lower mid-table in France’s top-flight, having been promoted last year, and Kelland is optimistic about his and the team’s future.

“Pau have been getting better and they have only just come up,” added Kelland, who played for Colchester in National 3 the season just gone.

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“For myself, I have got a two-year contract and in the first six months, it will be all about me nailing the language and learning the style of play.

“I would like to be pushing towards a starting position in the club’s under-23 team by the end of the first season and get a few training sessions with the first team.”

Kelland, who missed out on selection for England’s under-18s side this season, added: “Looking ahead, having not been selected for England Under-18s, I thought it might be difficult, if I stayed, to get in the England under-20s set-up.

“I have heard of a lot of people who don’t come back once they have gone out to play in France and, if, things go well for me, I don’t really see a reason why I would want to come back.”

Kelland is not the first Suffolk schoolboy to cross the Channel, former St Joseph’s College pupils Dan Lewis (Oyonnax) and Karl Wilkins (Clermont) having made the move two years ago.

Wilkins has just moved to Beziers, where he will join another former St. Jo’s pupil, Cam Ives.

Lewis is understood to be signing for Bedford Blues.

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