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Scottish Star Heads to France

One of Scotland’s players that was left out of their Rugby World Cup squad has decided to move to the French Top 14

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland star Josh Strauss has confirmed a short-term deal with French Top 14 side Stade Francais following his omission from the Rugby World Cup squad.

Having made his international debut for Scotland in 2015 the South African made what could be his last appearance for the national side last Saturday when he came off the bench against Georgia before being left out of Gregor Townsend’s squad.

The 32-year-old has wasted no time dwelling on his omission and has been unveiled as a World Cup joker for Stade Francais on what is a minimum three-month contract.

“This challenge is really exciting in this period of the World Cup. It’s a great opportunity in my career and in my life. Everything happened very quickly. I had to make a quick decision and I’m very happy to be here. I already worked with Heyneke Meyer and I already know some players in the team. I’m very happy to join the Stade Francais Paris,” he said.

The club’s head coach Heyneke Meyer is delighted to have Strauss on board to bring experience in while others are in Japan.

“We have several absentees in our squad following injuries or players selected for the World Cup. We have therefore been looking for an experienced profile to overcome the youth of our group. Josh has played for the Scottish national team, has a lot of experience, but most of all, he’s going to give us his leadership. I’m glad he joins the club,” he said.

It will be interesting to see where Strauss ends up after his short-term deal whether he stays on in France or heads somewhere else but what also remains to be seen is if he will play for Scotland again in the future.

Top 14

Bastareaud Set for Lyon Debut in Pack

Mathieu Bastareaud has been named to start in his first match for Lyon, but he won’t be in his usual position

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

French star Mathieu Bastareaud is set to make his anticipated debut for Lyon and will start at No 8 as they face Grenoble.

The 54-cap France international signed for Lyon on a short-term contract from Toulon before he heads on to MLR in the US.

It was suggested recently that the centre could move into the pack as an experiment to combat the fact that he is losing his pace.

Earlier this year former French international Thomas Castaignede also suggested that the 20 stone centre should move into the forwards to try and prolong his international career.

However, having been left out of France’s World Cup squad and then retiring from international rugby it seems more like a tactical decision.

Lyon have brought a 36-man squad for the game so if the Bastareaud experiment fails they have Carl Fearns on the bench to bring on.

The main thing is that if it doesn’t work there is still a couple of weeks until the Top 14 season starts, and if it does work then Bastareaud will have some more time to learn the ropes.

It will be interesting to see how it all pays off, but if it does work then Lyon could have a new weapon in their squad until he departs for New York.

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Super Rugby

Cruden Set for Possible Super Rugby Return

Aaron Cruden could be set for a Super Rugby return following confirmation of the details of his latest Montpellier contract

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(Photo credit JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Aaron Cruden could be on the way back to Super Rugby after Montpellier confirmed that his latest contract will expire on November 18th.

The former All Black has been at the French giants since 2017 but has suffered an injury plagued spell at the club and his newest deal will see him become World Cup cover while the club’s stars feature in the tournament.

Vern Cotter’s side have also confirmed they have agreed a similar deal with former Springbok star Jannie du Plessis, who has been at the club since 2015.

“Aaron Cruden, a New Zealand international who joined the club in 2017, will stay in Montpellier during the World Cup season. Jannie du Plessis, an international Springbok at the club since 2015, will also be hired as a World Cup joker. In parallel, he will continue to carry out his missions within the training centre,” they said in a club statement.

There has been plenty of speculation regarding Cruden’s future over the past few months with links to Bath, Glasgow and a return to New Zealand the most common.

However, with his new contract a return to New Zealand would appear the perfect switch as the Super Rugby season doesn’t kick-off until the new year meaning he could finish his time in Montpellier before linking up with a new club.

The most obvious destination is the Hurricanes, who have recently lost Beauden Barrett to the Blues and have a big void to fill. However, a move to any Super Rugby side would make sense but if Cruden impresses and stays injury free during his spell as a joker he could be asked to continue on in France.

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Top 14

Bastareaud Set for Positional Switch at Lyon

Mathieu Bastareaud has secured a short-term move to Lyon, but could he also be set for a positional move too?

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Lyon have announced the arrival of Mathieu Bastareaud on a short-term deal, but it now appears as though he may take up a new position too.

The 126kg centre has committed to Lyon until he sets off for the US and Major League Rugby in 2020 having been left out of Jacques Brunel’s French World Cup squad.

However, his short time at Lyon could leave a long-term impact on him as he may be set to move from his normal centre position to playing No 8.

“With Pierre (Mignoni), we discussed the possibility of playing at Number 8. I told him that I was not closed to play at that position. On the contrary, since we are talking about change, why not continue! It can also be exciting to take on this challenge over this period. After that, I think I still have a lot of work to perform at this key position. But we will try the bet!” he said to reporters.

Many have often wondered whether Bastareaud would be better suited in the pack due to his size, and with his pace declining it might be the ideal time for the transition.

Having been left out of Brunel’s World Cup plans unexpectedly, not even being named among the back-ups, Bastareaud was left without a plan between now and his switch to Rugby United New York next year.

He was said to be wanted by club’s in both France and across the globe for the next six months, with Montpellier, Stade Francais, the Sharks and Munster among the interested parties.

However, Lyon won the race and if he does decide to move to the back-row and succeed Brunel’s may wonder what could have been if France fail to fire at the World Cup. If he succeeds one would also wonder whether a future return to the international fold may be on the cards.

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