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Toulon Owner Confirms his Favourite Signing

Departing Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has spoken about his favourite signing out of his star-studded squads throughout the years

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(Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Mourad Boujellal has given his verdict on his favourite signing during his tenure as Top 14 outfit Toulon.

The long-serving owner announced that he will be leaving the role come the end of the summer with Bernard Lemaitre coming in. 

When he took over the club were in the French second-division, but they have since gone on to not only be promoted but have asserted themselves as one of the top teams in Europe winning both the Top 14 and the Champions Cup in recent years. 

His teams have been helped by a certain amount of star power which has included the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Tana Umaga, Freddy Michalak and Bryan Habana, and he has named his favourite signing of the bunch. 

“Everyone will say Jonny Wilkinson but I’m with Tana Umaga. At that time, I was a young president who knew nothing about rugby. This does not mean that I understand this game better now, but I have become an old president. I wanted to do something incredible, something unreal. The magic was that Umaga came as a freelance in Pro D2. And the transplant took – he stayed more than three years and remains an icon. I am also proud to have listened to Umaga and followed my instinct. He told me, ‘There is a player at XIIIs who has all the qualities to become a world star at XVs’. I did not know him and I signed him. The guy was Sonny Bill Williams. It was still listening to my intuition that I hired Wilkinson, Juan Smith, Bryan Habana or Frederic Michalak… I loved following this kind of file,” he said while speaking to French news outlet Midi Olympique. 

With him stepping aside many are wondering what he will do next and there are reports of him being a contender for the presidential position in the French League, and he has mixed views on the potential role. 

“There is a certain fatigue that has set in with the battle against the regulations. I became more of a lawyer than a club president. When I took over the RCT, my goal was to make dreams in a city whose DNA is rugby. I wanted to hear Mayol’s cathedral vibrate again. If I’m a candidate, I want to be credible. And to be you have to have a coherent programme. If I have one that meets the needs of the professionals, I’ll go. I am aware of being a very divisive character. Will people vote for a person or a programme? If I’m a candidate, in my wardrobe there will be a drawer for each club designed to create collective wealth. Today, the League is plagued by the philosophy of Limoges, according to which money kills the sport,” he said. 

His presidency of Toulon is not set to run out until 2023 but as mentioned above he is expected to depart next summer, but he may stay on and have a role with the club for the future. 

Whatever happens his time in Toulon will be remembered fondly by the locals as he has helped them become a rugby powerhouse.

Rugby Championship

Australia centre confirms French move

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Australia centre Tevita Kuridrani said on Wednesday he will end his Test career as he joins French Top 14 club Biarritz next season.

Kuridrani, 30, who made the last of his 61 Wallabies appearances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, has signed a two-year deal with the newly promoted outfit from the Basque Country.

He has spent almost a decade with two Australian franchises.

“Thank you @brumbiesrugby @wallabies and the @westernforce for 10
incredible years in Super Rugby and 6 in the green & gold,” he posted
on Twitter.

“Time for a new chapter,” he added.

Kuridrani made his debut for the Brumbies in 2012, going on to play 135 games for the club.

He would become a stalwart of the club as he nailed down a starting spot in his second season, helping the club to the Super Rugby Final and a historic win over the British and Irish Lions.

The 31-year-old moved to the Western Force in 2021, playing an integral role in their maiden finals appearance in Super Rugby AU.

Fijian-born Kuridrani, who would still be eligible for his country having won more than 60 caps, will link up with fellow Australia back Henry Speight at the Parc des Sports d’Aguilera as well as ex-New Zealand centre Francis Saili and former England No. 8 Steffon Armitage.

Biarritz, five-time French champions, have also signed Argentina scrum-half and Force teammate Tomas Cubelli and Ireland prop James Cronin as they return to the top flight for the first time in seven years.

Source – Australia Rugby

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Top 14

Zebo Expected to Extend French Stay

Simon Zebo appears set to continue his stay in France according to reports

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Racing 92 star Simon Zebo looks set to extend his stay in the French capital for another season according to Irish news outlet Independent.ie.

The 30-year-old has been at Racing for two seasons and has a clause to extend his time there to a third season if activated. 

Having impressed last season, the former Munsterman has had an injury-hit campaign this time around through concussion and breaking his foot, before the domestic and European season were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

However, when he has managed to play this season he has caught the eye and it is thought that the French giants are keen for him to put pen to paper on a new deal too. 

That would see the Cork native remain unable to add to his 35-caps for Ireland due to the overseas rules held by the IRFU, while it would also see him face a further challenge for minutes on the pitch with Wallaby ace Kurtley Beale appearing likely to join Racing in the summer. 

While a third-year in Paris seems set to be in Zebo’s short-term future, in the long-term it is unknown where he will end up, but admitted while speaking to Off the Ball yesterday that he would only return to Ireland to play for former side Munster

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Super Rugby

French Giants Eying Deal for Beale

Kurtley Beale could be set to leave the Waratahs for Europe this summer according to reports

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(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale looks set to leave the Waratahs for French Top 14 giants Racing 92 a report in the Daily Telegraph claims.

The 31-year-old has been key to the Super Rugby franchise and it would be a major blow to lose a player of his quality ahead of next season. 

However, despite the potential move across to Europe and Racing it would have no effect on his standing in the international set-up as he currently has 92-caps for the Wallabies to his name putting him well ahead of the 60 needed to be selected by an overseas player. 

With new head coach Dave Rennie coming in during the summer to take over from Michael Cheika it is unknown whether or not Beale will remain an integral part of the team. 

He was vital during Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign last year and with his versatility he will hope that Rennie sees him as an asset to his side. 

Although he is not the only Wallaby that is being reported to leave Super Rugby with Melbourne Rebels pair Matt Philip and Luke Jones also set to depart for France according to Fox Sport, with Pau their likely destination. 

All of these potential moves would be problematic for the Australian-based Super Rugby sides, who are struggling as it is and without star men sticking around the future looks bleak.

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