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Acorn trio on way to Montpellier after signing semi-pro deals
THREE York Acorn ARLC aces are looking forward to an adventure over the Channel after signing semi-professional deals with French Elite One outfit Montpellier Red Devils.
Antony Chilton, Jordan Hyde and Chris Rushworth, all 20-year-old former York City Knights reserves players, are to head to the south of France on Monday, having penned one-year part-time contracts with the club. The Elite One season runs from October to April.
Chilton, a stand-off, says the move came out of the blue but he has jumped at the chance to develop a pro career, which he hopes will continue in future on either side of the Channel.
“It was a massive surprise,” he said of Montpellier’s interest. “It will be good to play outside of England – to get a bit of hot weather will be nice. It’ll be a good adventure really.
“The club we’re going to have some full-time players and I’d like to target a full-time contract with a club down the line, preferably back in England eventually.”
The opportunity at Montpellier arose from Chilton’s trip to the south of France with the National Conference League Eagles team this summer. He helped the representative side to beat a Languedoc-Roussillon regional team, after which Red Devils coach Florian Chautard approached Acorn to ask about the half-back’s availability.
Chautard also asked for forwards interested in making the move to send playing CVs, after which prop Rushworth and former Leeds Rhinos academy second-row Jordan Hyde likewise agreed terms.
The Acorn trio have also secured accommodation and work thanks to the Montpellier club.
All three played for the Knights’ reserves last year but not this term, largely because of the National Conference League’s switch to a summer season. Previously they played in the winter for Acorn and in the summer for the Knights.
Acorn coach Scott Rhodes says they will be missed at the National Conference division one promotion-seekers but reckons they can take a lot from their French adventure.
“It’s disappointing to lose them at this stage of the season with seven games to go – we’re getting a bit thin on the ground and losing three quality players is not ideal – but it’s a great opportunity for them,” he said.
“They’ve been a pleasure to coach. They’ve come up from the under-18s and it’s been a massive effort from them. We wish them all the best.
“It will be a very good standard for them and it remains to be seen whether they play week in week out, but it’s giving them a chance to look at the pro game and if they go with the right attitude and give it their best shot they will get a lot out of it.”
Knights general manager Ian Wilson said: “We wish them well and hope they enjoy it. It’s great they’ve got this opportunity and no doubt they will improve with the experience.”