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Varndell set for Bristol

Championship club Bristol have swooped to sign former England wing Tom Varndell.

Bristol announced that Varndell would join them from Wasps on a two-year deal at the end of this season.

It represents a major coup for the west country club, who are favourites to win the Championship this term and secure an Aviva Premiership return.

Varndell, 29, has scored 81 Premiership tries in spells with Wasps and Leicester, second only on the all-tine list to Sale Sharks wing Mark Cueto.

Varndell won four caps for England between 2005 and 2008.

"We are delighted to be able to attract Tom's services for next season," Bristol rugby director Andy Robinson told the club's official website.

"He's a proven try-scorer who knows the Aviva Premiership inside out.

"Tom is one of the quickest players in world rugby and will suit the style of rugby that we are developing.

"His work-rate and attitude made him a firm favourite at Wasps and I'm sure Bristol supporters will look forward to seeing him in the blue and white hoops."

Varndell added: "I am an ambitious person, and I believe that Bristol Rugby - with the resources and vision that the club has - matches my ambition.

"I have had a fantastic time at Wasps and I thank the coaches, my team-mates and the supporters for making me so welcome for the past six years. We've still got a lot of exciting challenges ahead this season.

"I will be fully focused on doing all I can to help Wasps and the squad achieve our goals for the rest of this season."

Varndell's signing follows that of Italy international back Tommaso Benvenuti earlier this week. Benvenuti has agreed an 18-month deal with Bristol.

Wasps, meanwhile, confirmed Varndell's departure and that of his fellow back Will Helu at the end of this season.

And Wasps rugby director David Young revealed the club are "very close" to announcing a new signing on the wing.

Young said: "Tom Varndell has been fantastic for us since joining from Leicester Tigers in 2009, and he and Christian Wade have established a prolific partnership on the wing.

"Tom will be tough to replace but we understand it is a fantastic opportunity for him at Bristol and we wish him the best.

"Tom is a fans' favourite here and I have no doubt that he will do everything in his power to produce his best in black and gold for the rest of the season.

"We also hope to see him break the record for tries scored in the Premiership while wearing the Wasps shirt.

"Will also made a big impact during his first season with Wasps last season, but his game-time has unfortunately been limited this season due to injury.

"We are very close to being able to announce a new signing on the wing which I believe will excite Wasps and Aviva Premiership rugby fans."

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