Former All Black sacked by French club

Former All Blacks utility Tom Taylor has been sacked by French club Pau for going 'absent without leave' during the coronavirus lockdown, leaving France without the club's consent.

Pau announced Taylor, who played three tests for the All Blacks in 2013, left France on March 17 after the French Top 14 season was suspended, despite the club telling all players not to leave and "respect government measures". 

Where Taylor went remains unclear. 

"On March 17, 2020, the club noted that Mr Tom Taylor had left the national territory without any prior authorisation from his employer, even though all players were asked to remain at the disposal of the club and to respect government measures in as part of the fight against COVID-19," says Pau.

"This personal decision, contrary to all the instructions that had been given by the club since March 13, is all the more illegitimate, since it was not justified. He put the team and all the staff in the most complete disarray, since there was then no information on the dates on which the championship could resume and it was therefore necessary that the players were all immediately available in the event of a resumption of activity, which all his teammates understood and respected.

"The section regrets this behaviour on the part of his player that goes against the club's values, team spirit and basic ethics.

"During the preparation of the 2019/20 season, the club had voluntarily put in place rules of life, committing to respect moral values, and to demonstrate exemplary behavior on and off the field.

"Faced with these materially established facts, the club had no other recourse than to initiate a dismissal procedure against Mr Tom Taylor.

"The club will not comment on this at this time."

The sacking leaves the 31-year-old without a contract. Taylor moved to France to join Toulon in 2015 and switched to Pau, where he played 54 games, the following year. 

He played 10 Top 14 games this season, as well as five European Challenge games, when the season was suspended. 

Former All Blacks Luke Whitelock and Ben Smith also played for Pau last season. 

Last month, the Top 14 season was cancelled, with no winners crowned.