Sam Tomkins has spoken about how fellow Wiganer Shaun Edwards has settled in France after his transition into rugby union coaching – and how he now lives in the same village in Perpignan.
Edwards is now the defensive coach for the French national rugby union team, having switched codes following his retirement from rugby league to coach in the 15-man game back in 2001.
After a decade with London Wasps, Edwards joined up with the Welsh rugby union side where he coached for 11 years between 2008 and 2019, helping them win four Six Nations titles, including two grand slams.
He was then tasked with turning around the fortunes of France, which he has done superbly, while also been able to live around some familiar faces, as Tomkins told for Scotland Rugby star Jim Hamilton on his podcast.
“He’s not too far away,” said Tomkins. “I imagine it’s tougher for a coach than a player because as a player you’ve got other players around you and people help you but Shaun has gone into a massive role in the French team with a lot of pressure I imagine and he’s thrown himself straight in.
“When he came over a few years ago he came to a training session and I went over and asked what are you up to and he said ‘I’m over with the family, we’re traveling around France. I’ve got this job now and we’re going to move to France somewhere’.”
Despite French rugby union being based and operating out of Paris, Edwards has elected to live in southern France close to Tomkins having experienced a Catalans family day and noting the number of fellow Wigan natives in Perpignan.
“There’s about four lads in the team from Wigan,” Tomkins explains. “He (Edwards) said ‘I’m just going to live down here with you lot’ and I thought he was joking but a month later he’d bought a house, renovated it and moved down. He really threw himself into it.”
With Tomkins seeming intent on staying with the Dragons and Edwards having great success in his own job, it seems that there’s going to be a little corner of Wigan in Southern France for the foreseeable.