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Ex-England winger Marland Yarde has signed for a Top 14 club

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)

Former England winger Marland Yarde is back in rugby after securing a Top 14 contract with Bayonne until the end of the 2022/23 season. Having exited Sale during the off-season, Yarde played his first rugby since last January when he linked up with the Barbarians for their three-match November Premiership tour versus Harlequins, Bath and Northampton.

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That return had now led to a deal taking Yarde to France to play out the remainder of the season with Bayonne, whose 22-all draw at Pau on Friday left them sitting in sixth place heading into Christmas.

A tweet from Bayonne on Christmas Eve read: “England international winger Marland Yarde has joined Aviron Bayonnais with immediate effect until the end of the season.” Yarde replied: “Can’t wait to get started.”

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Yarde’s previous tweet was last month when he thanked the Barbarians for the opportunity to allow him to get back to playing. “It’s been one hell of a two weeks with this unbelievable organisation,” he wrote.

“We won and lost but the friendships and memories we have built will stick with me forever! Really found my love for the game again and excited for what’s next. Thank you.”

Yarde is the second player from the Premiership to join Bayonne this month midway through the Top 14 season as Bristol released Luke Morahan, the former Wallabies winger, from his Ashton Gate contact so that he could take up a deal with the French club.

It was last January when Sale admitted that an unnamed player belonging to them had been arrested by police, and it was September 2 when Yarde, the 13-cap England international, took to social media to confirm he was the subject of that investigation.

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His statement, which was soon deleted, read: “In January, I was arrested on suspicion of having committed a very serious offence. A necessarily lengthy police investigation followed but I can now confirm that no further action is to be taken against me.

“I have not been charged with any offence. Whilst I never doubted my innocence, I understand that the investigation had to be handled with care and sensitivity for the protection of all involved. Although innocent of the crime alleged against me, I take full responsibility for having put myself in a situation where an allegation could be made against me.

“I am working hard to improve as a person using what the incident has taught and shown me. I want to apologise to all my family and friends for the hurt and distress I have caused them. Their love and support gave me the strength to see a positive future, and I look forward to resuming my career doing what I love which is playing rugby.”

It was a few days later at his weekly media briefing that Sale boss Alex Sanderson, speaking ahead of their start to the 2022/23 Premiership season, confirmed that the club had parted company with Yarde during the off-season. “He left by mutual agreement. That was sometime in the summer because of all the negative press and all the association.

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“This is a sticky subject because I care for him and his family and I was the correspondence for him and his mum, so I am not going to go into his mental state or the difficulties he has had over the last eight months which have been extreme. Extreme. I can just say right now from what I hear he is in a good place and he is looking to keep playing the game.”

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