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Biarritz sign Tomane, confirm Cronin for Leicester among 19 exits

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Relegated Biarritz have confirmed the signing of former Wallabies midfielder Joe Tomane just a day after the club named the 19 players who are leaving them following their Top 14 demotion, a leavers list that includes ex-England international Steffan Armitage along with former Irish prop James Cronin and ex-All Blacks midfielder Francis Saili.

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The 32-year-old Tomane has just finished up in the Japan Top League where he played two seasons for Black Rams Tokyo after joining them following two seasons in Ireland with Leinster. He is used to the lifestyle in France having previously played at Montpellier, the club he joined in 2016 with his 17-cap Wallabies Test career behind him after finishing at the 2015 World Cup in England.

Biarritz president Jean-Baptiste Aldige announced the signing of Tomane on his Twitter account, tweeting: “Welcome, Joe.” Tomane will lead the Biarritz charge in Pro D2 in the absence of Saili, the former All-Blacks midfielder who is poised to remain in the Top 14 by joining Bordeaux for the 2022/23 campaign. He spent two years at Biarritz following a three-year spell at Harlequins and two years before that at Munster.

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Mention of the Irish side, their former loosehead Cronin is also exiting Biarritz. He was a surprise departure from Limerick last summer but his stay in France has lasted just a year as he will now take up an offer at Leicester, the Gallagher Premiership table-toppers who will lose Ellis Genge to Bristol at the end of the season.

Ex-England back row Armitage, whose penalty shootout kick earned Biarritz their promotion playoff win over rivals Bayonne a year ago, is also on the move, opting to link up with Nice, a club he knows from his childhood years in France before his family returned to England.

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Tomane is expected to link up with his former Wallabies teammate Tevita Kuridrani, whose current whereabouts is seemingly unknown after he skipped the final match of the Biarritz season, last Sunday night’s hammering at defending Top 14 champions Toulouse.

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Biarritz players leaving:
HIRIGOYEN – Stade Francais
STARK – Oyonnax
DA ROS – Retired
RUFFENACH – Pau
PLESSIS-COUILLAUD –
WATREMEZ – Retired
GIMENO – Montauban
AKHOBADZE – Carcassonne
LUCU – Retired
ARMITAGE – Nice
DARBO – Retired
ERBANI – Agen
CRAMOND – Retired
CRONIN – Leicester
HART –
NICOUE –
SAILI –
OLMSTEAD – Agen
CHEISHVILI –

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