Huw Bennett pledges future to relegated Lyon in France

Huw Bennett, Wales and Ospreys hooker
Huw Bennett, Wales and Ospreys hooker

Wales hooker Huw Bennett has confirmed he will sign for Lyon despite the French club being relegated from the country's top division this season.

Bennett will leave the Ospreys and has signed a two-year-deal to join Lyon in the second tier Pro D2.

"It's nice to get things finalised and I am looking forward to the start of the season," said Bennett.

Lyon, who were promoted to the Top 14 in the summer, have been relegated to French rugby's second division.

In February, Bennett confirmed his decision to leave the Ospreys after 11 years of service and move to France.

Lyon's poor form and ultimate relegation had raised speculation that the switch could be off, but 28-year-old has confirmed his commitment to his new club.

"It's disappointing for Lyon to have to go down to Pro Deux, but the aspirations have clearly been shown by the club with their recruitment they have made," said Bennett.

Bennett is the latest Welsh player to confirm he will be playing in France next season, with Gethin Jenkins off to Toulon, Luke Charteris heading for Perpignan and Aled Brew moving to Biarritz.

Alex Cuthbert, the Wales and Cardiff Blues winger, is another being linked with a big-money move to a French club this summer.

Bennett will join former Ospreys players Mike Phillips, James Hook and Lee Byrne in French rugby.

Scrum-half Phillips joined Bayonne, fly-half Hook signed for Perpignan and full-back Byrne moved to Clermont Auvergne.

The Ospreys squad is set to lose Ireland wing Tommy Bowe to Ulster, record try-scorer Shane Williams is to retire, back-rower Tom Smith has signed for London Irish and Nikki Walker has agreed a deal with the Worcester Warriors.

Now Bennett has continued the Liberty Stadium exodus as the Ospreys, like Wales' other three regions, have to adjust to operating with a £3.5m salary cap from next season.

Bennett, who has won 51 Wales caps since his 2003 debut against Ireland, had been at the Ospreys since the region's formation in 2003 and the Ebbw Vale-born forward has won three league titles.

An Achilles injury ended his season prematurely in March, also ruling him out of the Wales tour to Australia.

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