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Leicester Tigers re-sign England fly-half George Ford, and Freddie Burns goes the other way

Leicester Tigers have re-signed Bath’s England fly-half George Ford for the start of next season, with Freddie Burns, 26, moving in the opposite direction. Ford was contracted to Bath until the end of the 2017-18 season, but Tigers have bought him out of the final year of his deal. Ford emerged through Leicester’s academy but left to join Bath in 2013.

Fellow fly-half Freddie Burns joined the Tigers from Gloucester in 2014 after starting his career with Bath.

Ford made his Leicester debut as a 16-year-old, going on to win the Premiership and the Anglo-Welsh Cup before his switch to Bath, where he played in the European Challenge Cup final in 2014 and the Premiership final in 2015. He won his 32nd England cap in the Six Nations win over Wales last weekend.

“This hasn’t been an easy decision for me to make, but I feel it is the best one for me at this time,” said Ford, who initially moved to Bath when his father Mike Ford (now head coach of Top 14 side Toulon) was on the coaching staff.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Bath and have worked with some incredible players and coaches.”

Tigers head coach Aaron Mauger told his club’s website: “George has become one of the leading players in his position in Europe and is still a young man with a lot of rugby ahead him.

“While delighted to be able to bring in George, we are disappointed to lose Freddie who has been an outstanding player for us in the last three years.”

‘Opportunity I have dreamt of’

Freddie Burns has kicked 337 points for Leicester in 46 Premiership appearances since joining from Gloucester. Burns first emerged as an England international during his five years at Gloucester, making his debut at Twickenham against New Zealand in 2012, and won the last of his 5 England caps in June 2014, against the All Blacks, and said he was delighted to return to Bath.

“The opportunity for me to represent my hometown club is one I have dreamt of from the day I started playing rugby,” he told Bath’s website. Bath’s director of rugby Todd Blackadder said: “We are really excited to be working with Freddie next season.

“He is a fantastic player, who has really developed into an all-encompassing fly-half in the last couple of years and I’m looking forward to seeing that fit into our game here.

“We are naturally disappointed that George has decided to leave. He is a great player and I have enjoyed working with him.”

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