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Bristol sign ex France international Virimi Vakatawa

By PA
(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Bristol have pulled off a major coup by tempting former France international Virimi Vakatawa out of retirement.

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Fiji-born Vakatawa was forced to walk away from professional rugby last September due to the discovery of a medical issue related to his heart.

Rules in France prevented Vakatawa from continuing to play for Racing 92 and he effectively retired, but last month he featured for Barbarians, who were being coached by Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam.

Lam and Bristol sought the advice of an expert panel of leading sports cardiologists and following an independent review, Vakatawa has signed on a 12-month deal after he was cleared to play in England.

“I’m excited to be joining Bristol Bears and to be continuing my rugby career at the highest level,” Vakatawa told the official club website.

“After working with Pat during my time with the Barbarians, I knew that this was the right place for me and I can’t wait to play in front of the Bristol fans.

“The Premiership has always been an exciting competition, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it this season, and representing the Bears in the Champions Cup.”

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Vakatawa, 31, spent more than a decade at Racing before his shock retirement and helped them reach the Champions Cup final in 2018 and 2020.

Bristol director of rugby Lam is excited to see the all-action centre at Ashton Gate.

He added: “I am really pleased to be able to bring a player of Virimi’s class and quality to Bristol and the Gallagher Premiership as it’s exciting for our team, our supporters and our competition.

“I had the privilege of getting to know V better on and off the field recently and it was very clear to me that he would add real value to the Bears and would bring more depth and experience to our backline.

“Virimi is desperate to get back to playing at the highest level. For the Bears to be able to bring in a player of his quality is a huge statement for the Premiership and we’re delighted that he has chosen to continue his rugby journey with us.”

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M
Morne 27 minutes ago
Thanks but no thanks, the All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks

Some further observations: Most Rugby lovers I know agree that the AB’s have been the gold standard for as long as anyone can remember - very few people disagree. The odd time that any other team has some sort of ascendency - there are always those (albeit the minority) NZ supporters that need to remind us of the AB’s glorious gold standard that anyone winning them is only down to a mixture of pure luck or some or other sinister reason or bias from match officials (or indeed the Universe). For reasons mentioned above, any other team with some ascendency over the AB’s (even if it is the 1st time in 100 years) may not receive a pat on the back and a well-done - as they only did so out of pure luck. In my opinion, if the Boks were in the same realm as the AB’s SF opponents - they would have been smashed also - whether with 14 or 13 or 12 players. But remember they were just “lucky”. As a Bok supporter, I will say this team has done our proud - despite losing some games along the way. Like the AB’s, the games the boks lose are 9/10 times one score games - this is a long way from hidings like 57 - 0…And in that we must be proud. Most of these type of articles - especially those focusing on the RWC final rather conveniently leave out any mention of Pieter Steph du Toit, or even Eben Etzebeth who won all their collusions all day long. So to those very very few bad loser AB supporters out there (definitely the minority) - I’ll say what you want to hear - the AB’s are without any doubt the best Rugby brand ever. They have consistently achieved what all other teams can only dream of. And no doubt they will scale those heights again. Now what about allowing others the odd ray of sunlight that comes our way?

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TRENDING Thanks but no thanks, the All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks
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