Leicester Tigers have signed international scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth ahead of the 2020/21 season.
A six-time Premiership Rugby and three-time European Champions Cup winner, Wigglesworth joins Tigers after stints with Sale Sharks and Saracens during almost two decades in professional rugby.
Premiership Rugby’s record appearance-holder, with 288 games in the top flight, Wigglesworth has also represented England on 33 occasions and featured in back-to-back Rugby World Cup campaigns in 2011 and 2015.
Born in Blackpool, he rose through the ranks of the Sale Sharks junior system before making his professional debut in 2002 and represented England at Under-18, 19 and 21 age group levels.
The scrum-half made his Test debut in 2008 against Italy in Rome and made the most recent of 33 appearances for England against Australia at Twickenham in 2018.
Speaking about the addition of Wigglesworth, Tigers Director of Rugby Geordan Murphy described the 37-year-old as a “proven winner” and identified the “unrivalled experience” he will bring to Leicester as a major coup for the club.
“It’s very exciting to welcome a player of Richard’s calibre to Leicester Tigers,” said Murphy.
“He has seen it all, done it all and understands what it takes to be successful in rugby and is a proven winner at the top level of the game.
“Richard has unrivalled experienced in Premiership Rugby, has achieved multiple European success and played international rugby for more than a decade.
“What Richard will bring us on the pitch is only half of it, as his experience and knowledge will also add so much to our young squad at Leicester Tigers and what we are building here in this new chapter of our club’s history.”
Murphy also admitted the additional experience at the club was vital, while the club has several senior members of the squad away on international duty.
“We are obviously missing guys like George [Ford], Ellis Genge and Ben [Youngs] to England and Nemani Nadolo, Kini [Murimurivalu] and Shalva [Mamukashvili], as well as others who have not yet arrived, so someone of Richard’s experience will be vital during the time they are not with us and then a bonus once they return.”
Wigglesworth, discussing his move to Tigers, said: “I still feel like I am fit, I’m healthy and can contribute and Tigers is a great fit.”
“I’ve never been one to look for an easy option, I’ve always wanted a challenge and this is a big challenge for me.
“Leicester Tigers is the biggest club in the country and I am relishing the challenge.
“It is a club that want to get back to the top and that isn’t easy … but I am not interested in easy.
“Leicester Tigers has a lot of good people and I am excited to be involved.”
The scrum-half also shared his excitement at playing a senior, experienced role in the young Leicester squad.
“I’m looking forward to working with Ben [White], Jack [Van Poortvliet] and all of the young guys at the club,” he said.
“First and foremost, I am looking forward to getting to know everybody and then whatever help they want, or don’t want, I will be there for them.
“I want to be a positive influence on the young lads and get great satisfaction in seeing young players do well.
“If you look at the success of the Tigers Academy, you can see there are loads of good, young players coming through and it is exciting to be a part of this journey in Leicester.”
Wigglesworth joins fellow internationals Matias Moroni, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla and South African forward Jasper Wiese as new faces confirmed to be joining the squad ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.