French title contenders Lyon have confirmed the early April RugbyPass story that Mathieu Bastareaud is joining them on a two-year deal from Rugby United New York. It was April 1 when it was first reported that instead of staying on in America, the ex-France midfielder would be heading back to the Top 14.
Ambitious Lyon have now officially admitted he is indeed a new signing and is poised to return to a club he fleetingly played for at No8 on a short-term basis in the early months of the 2019/20 season.
Bastareaud detoured to Lyon after he was left out of the France squad for the World Cup in France, bringing the curtain down on his 54-cap Test career. His plan for 2020 was to play the Major League season with New York, but that campaign ended prematurely after just five rounds of matches due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The American club had hoped Bastaruead would consider staying on and playing with them in 2021, but the 31-year-old informed them he wanted to give the Top 14 another shot. In a tweet posted on Saturday, Lyon wrote: “Bastareaud is back! Mathieu Bastareaud is committed for two years starting this summer!”
James Kennedy, Rugby United New York’s majority owner, told RugbyPass some weeks ago: “He will be in Top 14, he has got a two-year contract with Lyon. He will be over there and will do well. There are two parts to Mathieu. First of all, as a human being, he was bang on, one of the best I have ever come across. Legitimately, he couldn’t do enough.
— LOU Rugby (@LeLOURugby) April 18, 2020
“But playing, he came in overweight. Basically, he had been on the Baa-Baas for three weeks and was working his way back into form, moving into the back row. He was getting better every week. He was having a hell of a more effect on practice, his leadership was starting to come to the top and he was getting things simplified and cleaned up.
“His game against San Diego, our last game, was his best game. He was the best player on the field. He didn’t get the man of the match but the stats spoke for themselves. He was definitely starting to find form.
“He was working really hard, training twice a day, five days a week with the team and then on his own with his own trainer. I feel bad for him, I really do. People jump on his back really quickly, especially in France, but he was really going in the right direction.
“You feel bad for him, you feel bad for Cathal Marsh, guys like that who are moving on. Some are hanging their boots up, Basta is going back to Lyon for two years. He has only just turned 31 so he might be back in a RUNY shirt in two years. His visa will allow him to if he wants, so let’s see.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now