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Ibanez extends his time with Wasps

London Wasps are delighted to announce that hooker Raphael Ibanez has extended his contract for a further year, and will remain at the club until the end of the 2008/09 season.

In addition to his playing duties, Ibanez will also work as part of the London Wasps Academy coaching team, helping to guide Wasps' younger forwards in their development.

Though he has already accumulated 98 international caps and over 50 Premiership appearances in 12 seasons of top flight rugby the former French captain, who joined Wasps in the summer of 2005, insists there is plenty left in the tank to fuel him through the forthcoming year and a half.

"I still want some action as a player," says Ibanez. "I'm very pleased to be staying at Wasps for another year, I still have the fire for competition on the pitch and I believe I can continue to be effective as a player. I'm also very excited about the opportunity I have next season to get involved with the Wasps Academy and do a bit of coaching."

"I had some options to consider from the French Federation, but I think they came too early for me. I need to get some experience first, and I can think of no better place to get that experience than at Wasps. In Geech, Shaun and Leon we have top class coaches, and I have no doubt that this is the best place to continue my progress. Living and learning from a different culture has been very valuable but I also believe rugby is about passion, and I have a strong passion for Wasps which made my decision easy."

Raf in action against Leeds Carnegie earlier this season

Raf in action against Leeds Carnegie earlier this season

The former PE teacher, who gained his qualifications before turning professional as a player, is looking forward to the new challenge of coaching the club's younger players. "Every morning I come through the door at our training ground and I feel I still have something to learn, but I also want to share my experience with the young players coming through. At the moment that is an exciting prospect as we have many promising players coming up through the Wasps Academy, so our future on the pitch is looking very bright."

"My family will stay in Dax, and I know this has led to speculation that I would return to France at the end to this season, but as you can see it is not the case! Though it is not always easy to be away from my family, we have worked out a balance that we are all happy with, and I know that I will get plenty of support from my Wasps family in London in the meantime."

Director of Rugby, Ian McGeechan said, "Raf is an outstanding, world class player who arrived at Wasps three years ago and fitted in immediately. He has been a tremendous asset to the team and the club on and off the field, and he commands huge respect from everyone here. Next season Raf will be very important to our playing and training programmes, taking a role working with our younger players as well as playing a big part in our plans for the first team."