Ex-England and Falcons player Jamie Noon reflects on a fantastic finish to his career with French side Brive after helping them to promotion back to the Top 14 and discussed what the future holds.
How does it feel to know you can leave Brive knowing they will be back in the top flight next year?
It’s obviously great to finish the season on such a high but to finish my career like that is pretty good too. It was my 100th and also last game for the club in a final that we won to secure promotion. We had set objectives for this year and we achieved them so all in all job well done.
Were you tempted to carry on for one more season after that?
I would have liked to do one more but I think the club need to look to the future now and give some of the younger guys some game time.
What was it that prompted the initial move over to France?
I had been a Newcastle a while and felt like I needed a different challenge.
Were you ever tempted to come back?
I have loved my time here in France and wanted to stay for my children. I had had offers to come back but decided that it was best for us to stay here at Brive.
What are the main differences between the leagues in England and France?
Both leagues are very competitive and physical but I think that the Top 14 seems to be improving rapidly at the moment with more and more international stars coming.
Would you recommend France to other players contemplating a move?
I would definitely recommend France to other players but I do think it depends on their circumstances. A young player looking to play for England needs to be playing in the Aviva.
Why the choice to became an agent rather than take up coaching?
I haven’t ruled out coaching completely but I just think the lifestyle can be a bit stressful. Its also the most obvious thing for any past player to try and do. I would like to use my experiences to help players and also stay in the game I love.
Do you think you might become more involved back in the UK or will the focus be on British talent moving to France and beyond?
I don’t really know how it will work moving forward to be honest. I think with the new rules in France there might be less movement across the channel with the omission of real star talent. It may also depend on if I can get clients and what they want to do.
What are the key challenges in becoming an agent?
I don’t think it’s as straightforward as people may think. There is a selection process to pass and exams to take before you can start to act for people. It is also a very competitive market with lots of established agents with heaps of experience. I’m hopeful that the lads I have played with over the years go into coaching which will give me an advantage.
Excited? Scared? Nervous?
I have mixed emotions, I am excited about the next adventure and new challenge but also worried about leaving the domain I have come to know so well. It will be a lot harder moving forward but I have always been a worker so I hope that stands me in good stead
Are you going it alone or as part of an established agency and either way do you have any players signed on yet?
I have no players just yet as I am not registered officially. My plan is to work with someone to learn the ropes.
Do you still follow old club Falcons?
Yes I follow them on twitter and still keep in touch with the lads I know from back in the days.
After a difficult couple of seasons do you think Dean Richards is the man to make them a force in the Premiership again if they secure promotion?
Yes, I think that he did a great job with Leicester and Quins when they were relegated, he has masses of experience in top flight rugby so I really hope so.
What do you think of the current England set-up and which players do you find most exciting?
I like the make up of the current squad and I think it has a great balance of youth and experience. I’ve been impressed with my old team-mate Geoff Parling, I think he is growing as a player.
Should Tuilagi play 12 or 13?
I think he’ll be pretty good in either position and it depends on the team’s style of play and game plan not to mention weather conditions.
Excited for the Lions?
Sure I speak for every rugby fan when I say this is the main event of the season. Such a great spectacle with some real talent on show.
Is Jonny Wilkinson likely to join up with them?
Probably, he’s had another great year.