SAM Hidalgo-Clyne has agreed his third short-term contract in a row, signing with French Top 14 leaders Lyon. But the former Edinburgh and Scotland scrum-half has insisted that he does not regret leaving Scarlets at the end of last season, and is confident that he will have a longer-term deal lined up for the start of next season.
The 26-year-old had a spell on loan with Harlequins in the spring while still a Scarlets player, then joined Racing 92 as World Cup cover earlier this season after he and the Welsh club agreed to part company. Having had a taste of French rugby, he is pleased to be given the chance to experience life in Lyon, but also knows that his next move will be key for his career.
“I’m flying to Lyon on Monday night and starting on Tuesday,” he said. “It’s going to be three months. It keeps me in the market, keeps me playing, and keeps me fit, which is good. It could be a good chance to get a little bit of game time.
“I enjoyed Racing. It was a good opportunity to play for a club with incredible facilities – it was just a shame it was a short-term thing, but these things happen. Everything is very emotional in French rugby: if you win a game, it’s like you’ve won the World Cup, when you lose a game it’s like someone’s died or something. It’s a good rollercoaster to be on if you can embrace it.
“The language barrier is a struggle, specially in a position like scrum-half, but the whole experience has been really good. Again, going to Lyon, who are top of the Top 14 just now – I’m sure that will be a good move too. They’re a good side. They’re a club who probably don’t have a huge amount of superstars – they’re more of a team, which is good. Hopefully I can fit in pretty well, get some game time and enjoy things.”
The chance to join Lyon arose when Jean-Marc Doussain was injured playing against Montpellier last week. Doussain has since had an operation and will be out for several months, allowing his club to play their “medical joker” and make a new signing outwith the normal transfer window.
“My last game for Racing was four or five weeks ago, so it’s been a while since I’ve had a ball in my hands and I’m eager to get back into things, to be honest,” Hidalgo-Clyne continued. “There’s nothing worse than having to train on your own – finding a gym or a park and get running. It’s pretty miserable, especially when you don’t know if your next move is going to be months or a couple of days: you don’t know how hard to train for or when to train for. It’s been pretty bleak.
“I love France. The lifestyle’s good, and there’s a huge buzz around the games – certainly a lot more than in the PRO14. The only difficult thing is that not being French-qualified makes it difficult to get in there unless you’re a current or top international.
“My next move will be long term, for sure. But I wouldn’t have changed anything since leaving Scarlets. My experiences at the last two clubs I’ve been at, Harlequins and Racing, have been really good. And I would much rather do those short-term deals, even though it’s tough on the family, and have the experiences I got there, rather than stay at Scarlets. But, as I say, hopefully my next move will be on a longer-term contract and I can stay at that club for two or three years. I think the next move is key for the family, and for myself.”