Springboks second row Eben Etzebeth has extended his contract at Toulon, the Top 14 club he arrived at last November on a two-year deal following South Africa’s 2019 World Cup triumph in Japan. 

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The 28-year-old second row, who has won 85 caps since making his debut versus England in 2012, has now extended his deal in France through to 2024, one year less than the contract extension agreed with Patrice Collazo, the club’s head coach who will be at Toulon until at least 2025. 

Etzebeth told the Toulon Rugby Club TV: “I was planning on coming for two years but I will be staying longer. It’s nice to settle down in a place, find your feet. Toulon is a place where I can do that. Nice by the ocean, great weather, great people.”

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Etzebeth played just five Top 14 matches for Toulon since joining from the Stormers, along with three further appearances in the European Challenge Cup before the 2019/20 rugby season was halted due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The delayed Challenge Cup will resume on September 19 with Toulon hosting Scarlets at Mayol. However, French rugby officials opted to scrap the 2019/20 Top 14 campaign and will instead start the new 2020/21 season on a weekend where Toulon visit La Rochelle on September 5. 

The Toulon extension for Etzebeth highlights the influence he has at the club despite only being there a short time. He was one of Toulon’s big signings last summer alongside the likes of Baptiste Serin and Sergio Parisse and they have been given the responsibility of helping the club return to the top table after languishing the past few years. 

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Now back in France, Etzebeth spent much of the recent lockdown in Cape Town after securing permission from Toulon in April to hunker down in South Africa. 

The club had initially wanted him to stay in Europe as the 2019/20 season had yet to be cancelled and they were worried about any travel restrictions affecting the availability of their overseas contingent. However, Toulon eventually relented to the repeated requests from Etzebeth to go home and he was allowed to do so. 

What will be interesting next, though, is whether Etzebeth will receive clearance to take part fully in the Rugby Championship which is set to held in New Zealand next November and December.

League officials in France are unhappy with the length of the Test window recommended this week by World Rugby and have suggested they might play hardball regarding regulation nine governing the release of players for international matches.  

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