After much anticipation, France centre Mathieu Bastareaud has signed a landmark deal with Major League Rugby outfit Rugby United New York.
The 30-year-old shared an image on Instagram of the new shirt that he will be wearing during the first half of 2020. This is a landmark deal, which will see him take a six-month loan in America from Toulon after the World Cup in Japan later this year.
Many have questioned how the hulking midfielder will fare in the fledgling American league, as he is still a top-class player on the European scene.
The 19-stone back has already become quite the tourist in his new temporary home, sharing photos of Central Park, Grand Central Station and Times Square on his Instagram story of his new home come January. This is what he shared:
Likewise, Rugby United New York shared the photos on Twitter of the 54-cap Frenchman signing his new contract in what is a breakthrough deal for the league and rugby in the United States as a whole.
While he has former England international Ben Foden in his team and former Toulon team-mate Samu Manoa playing for Seattle Seawolves, he is the first player at the top of his game to arrive in the league.
This move is not about money, as he would earn more if he remained in Toulon. Rather it is likely to be a chance to recuperate after the World Cup and give himself a better chance of prolonging his career.
— Rugby United New York (@rugbyunitedny) June 12, 2019
This sabbatical-style move is being done by All Blacks such as Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, who will begin stints in Japan after the World Cup before returning to the All Blacks with the idea of giving more longevity to their career.
However, unlike Bastareaud, a move to Japan is also in their interests financially. Bastareaud will not be in New York for long, as he will soon be with the French national team in preparation for the World Cup. But his club is something for MLR to look forward to.
WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what fans can expect in Japan at this year’s World Cup
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