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George North will leave URC for ProD2 - report

By Ian Cameron
George North of Wales reacts during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Wales and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on October 14, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Henry Browne - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

It is being reported that Welsh rugby star George North has agreed to join ProD2 club Aix-en-Provence next season from Welsh URC side the Ospreys.

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The news comes after earlier reports in Midi Olympique on November 17 hinted at advanced talks between North and the French club, and now, Sud Ouest reveals that the Welsh international has given his formal agreement to play for Provence Rugby in the upcoming season.

His visit to Provence Rugby’s modern facilities and discussions with the club’s management last week paved the way for the agreement, and if completed, this move is expected to have a significant impact on the ProD2 competition and further elevate Provence Rugby’s standing in the league.

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Stormers head coach John Dobson on his players’ commitment after their defeat to Cardiff

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Stormers head coach John Dobson on his players’ commitment after their defeat to Cardiff

The 31-year-old will join the ranks of Mauricio Reggiardo’s squad, which currently sits in third position in ProD2.

While it reflects the ambitions of the ProD2 side to secure high-profile talent, it underscores the challenges faced by Welsh rugby in retaining talent. With the Ospreys apparently unable to retain the seasoned player, North looks to set to follow in the footsteps of former Wales and Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones, who recently played his final game of professional rugby with French side Toulon after exiting Welsh rugby last season.

Provence has certainly landed a stellar name in North.

Having toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017, the 6’4, 109kg winger 31-year-old has an impressive track record of 118 caps for Wales and the Lions. Known for his prolific try-scoring abilities, North’s wealth of experience includes four 6 Nations Tournament victories, two grand slams (2012, 2019), and four Rugby World Cup appearances.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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