French glamour club Racing 92 have confirmed the signing of veteran Wallabies utility back Kurtley Beale on a two-year deal.
The 31-year-old’s addition to the squad was announced by the club’s sporting director and former France flanker Yannick Nyanga in a video released on Monday.
Capable of playing at flyhalf, in the midfield and at fullback, Beale will depart Australia with a wealth of experience after having amassed 92 caps for the Wallabies since 2009.
He has also played in over 150 Super Rugby matches for the Melbourne Rebels and the Waratahs, the club of which he is currently vice-captain of and has played well over 100 times for since his professional debut 13 years ago.
By virtue of having played in more than 60 tests for the Wallabies and being based in Australia for more than seven years, Beale will remain eligible for international selection despite his relocation to France.
Whether or not incoming Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie will opt to select the seasoned playmaker is another question entirely, however, as the prospect of overhauling the Australian squad must be a top priority for the former Chiefs boss.
That may involve parting ways with Beale, who has been an established figure within the national setup for well over a decade now and has attended the past three World Cups in New Zealand, England and Japan.
Should Rennie look to retain Beale’s services, though, he could be viewed as a safe pair of hands with an impressive curriculum vitae to boot.
This isn’t Beale’s first foray into European club rugby, as he joined English Premiership side Wasps on a one-season deal for the 2016-17 campaign, helping them to a semi-final finish domestically and a quarter-final finish in the Champions Cup.
He leaves the Waratahs with one Super Rugby title to his name after he played a key role in their maiden championship in 2014.
Racing’s acquisition of Beale only adds to their star-studded squad which already features the likes of French stars Virimi Vakatawa, Teddy Thomas and Camille Chat, as well as foreigners Finn Russell, Simon Zebo and Juan Imhoff.
Beale will also be joined by six-test Wallabies utility forward Luke Jones, who will leave the Melbourne Rebels for a second stint in France following his three-year spell with Bordeaux between 2016 and 2019.
“We’ve tried to mix youth and experience in positions where we haven’t managed to pull through from our academy,” Nyanga said in the video announcement released on Racing’s social media channels.
“We have two premium signings who will bring some experience and their ability,” he added.
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— Racing 92 (@racing92) May 11, 2020
The signings of Beale and Jones will help offset the departures of fullback Brice Dulin, flyhalf Ben Volavola, and props Ben Tameifuna and Vasil Kakovin, which were also confirmed in Monday’s video.
Additionally, former All Blacks loose forward Chris Masoe will leave his post as defence coach, and will be replaced by ex-France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski.
Racing 92 were performing admirably in the Top 14 until the 2019-20 season was cancelled last week due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, sitting in third spot after 17 matches.
The Paris-based club have also qualified for for the European Champions Cup quarter-finals and are due to clash with fellow French giants Clermont in a fixture set to take place when the tournament’s suspension is lifted.
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