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Bastareaud will be changing position at new club Lyon

By Ian Cameron
France centre Mathieu Bastareaud. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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Lyon have won the race to sign Mathieu Bastareaud on a short-term deal.


Jacques Brunel left Bastareaud out of the 31-strong France squad for the Rugby World Cup, the centre even failing to be included in the standby list of the players also announced.

The question then became where would he play prior to his MLR assignment with Rugby United New York.

The hulking centre was spotted at the Lyon last week, who have now confirmed the signing.

However, his new club may play him in a new position – in the back row.

“With Pierre (Mignoni), we discussed the possibility of playing at Number 8,” he told reporters.


“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!”

Early this year Thomas Castaignede told RugbyPass he believed Bastareaud could launch a new international career at No.8 for France, insisting the centre is now too slow to command a place in the back division.

Castaignede, who won 54 caps for France, told RugbyPass: “I really like Mathieu and he is a really good guy, but for me he is not a centre for France – he is a backrow.

“To play the modern game you need quick guys in the backs and as a No8, Bastareaud could be even better than Louis Picamoles in this position. Mentally it will be difficult for Bastareaud to accept this kind of move but he would be tremendous and he would help the French team. And, we need him.


Bastareaud was left out of France’s plans for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, and was linked a number of clubs.

Bastareaud will take a massive pay cut to play for MLR side Rugby United New York in 2020, but his World Cup snubbing means he could be left without a club or any competitive rugby for the guts of six months.

Despite being technically under contract with Toulon until December 1st, both parties decided to split ways earlier this week.

While Munster were linked with the giant 126kg centre, Stade Francais and Montpellier looked like leading the race for a short-term contract.

It was later reported that Montpellier had sent him a contract proposal as they want him as cover for Francois Steyn who is expected to be away at the World Cup with South Africa. Financial terms were said to be agreeable, even if the club isn’t Bastareaud’s first choice.

Stade Francais are believed to have sent a proposal to Bastareaud.

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