King joins the Clermont empire

Clermont Auvergne have signed Wasps fly-half Alex King on a one-year contract, with the fly-half leaving the Wycombe club after eleven years of service.

Only Lawrence Dallaglio has made more appearances for Wasps than King, who also holds the Wasps’ all-time points-scoring record with 1,532 points in 269 appearances, and penalty, drop goal, and conversion records, despite often being only the second-choice kicker at the club.

The fly-half’s choice of future club brings with it another dramatic twist in Wasps’ Heineken Cup history, as it means that King will be facing his old club in Pool 5 of the 2007/8 Heineken Cup within months of making the move.

The move also swells Clermont’s playing coffers once more, as the abundant cash within the French game once again claims talent from abroad, followig in the wake of the signing of South African captain John Smit, among others.

In addition, King and Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan have made public plans that will hopefully bring the fly-half back to Wasps once his playing days are done.

“The end of last season wasn’t quite the right time to decide what I was going to do,” said King.

“I wanted to be able to focus purely on preparing for the Heineken Cup Final and after that was over, obviously things were then very emotional.

“The victory at Twickenham was a great day in the history of the club, and one that is very special to me, one that I am proud to have been a part of. Since then I have taken some time off and reflected a bit on what I should do in the coming season.

“When the offer came in from France I could see that it would be a fantastic opportunity to gain some new experiences and hopefully see things from different perspectives, things which will be especially important to me as I do plan to pursue a career in coaching once I’ve retired.

“So I’m hoping this will be an experience that will stand me in good stead, and allow me to see new things and learn new things – things that can be beneficial to both parties if I ever do want to come back to Wasps and do some coaching.

“Having said that, it was a massively difficult decision to make. I’ve had some of the best times a rugby player could hope for at this club, and made some fantastic and hopefully lifelong friendships with some truly special people. The club has been a huge part of my life for the past eleven years, and I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to leave.

“However, I thought long and hard about the decision, and I do believe this is the best thing for me and my family. The added bonus is that I was able to go out on such a high, winning the Heineken Cup at Twickenham.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Chris Wright, Ian McGeechan, Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards, and all the coaching, fitness and physio staff for their support and encouragement over the years, and also to thank everyone who has played for Wasps during that time for their friendship and backing.

McGeechan chose to be pragmatic over the loss of so influential a player, making very clear that King would likely be returning soon enough.

“Alex has been core to everything Wasps has been about in recent years and I hope he will continue to be so in the future, as we have spent some time discussing his options once he has retired from playing,” he said.

“I believe he will continue to be a very important part of the club in the future, and to that end we have plans to develop a coaching position for him at Wasps when he reaches the end of his playing days.

During his time at Wasps, King became the most decorated fly-half currently in the club game, having won everything English club rugby has to offer. His roll call of winners medals includes two Heineken Cups, four English league titles and two English knock out cups, plus the Anglos Welsh Cup in 2006 and the European Challenge Cup in 2003.

However,

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