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Struggling Biarritz ready to swoop for out-of-favour Munster pair

By Liam Heagney
Munster have returned to training after an academy player tested positive for Covid-19.

Fallen French giants Biarritz are set to raid Johann van Graan’s Munster fringe, lining up the summer signing of two players surplus to requirement at the Irish province.


Back row Dave O’Callaghan and scrum-half James Hart have failed to get much of a look-in during the South African coach’s first full season in Ireland. 

O’Callaghan has managed just a pair of PRO14 starts this term with Hart even faring worse, featuring just twice off the bench in a season where he slipped further down the pecking order when Munster snapped up former All Black Alby Mathewson on a short-term deal as cover for Conor Murray.

That inactivity at a club that has qualified for an end-of-March Champions Cup quarter-final at Edinburgh has made them prime targets for a change of scenery and reports in France claim Biarritz are willing to provide it.

French rugby would be unfamiliar territory to 29-year-old O’Callaghan, but Hart, 27, earned his stripes at Grenoble and Racing 92 before moving to Munster in 2017.  

There are currently eight players from Ireland playing in this season’s Pro D2. They include Jamie Hagan (Beziers), Stuart Olding (Brive) and Dan Tuohy (Vannes), a trio of former internationals who moved to France to keep their professional careers alive.

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Time have changed drastically for Biarritz since they were battling head-to-head with Munster for European honours. The clubs clashed in the 2006 European Cup final and the 2010 semi-final, but Biarritz have slipped out of the picture since then, losing their their Top 14 status when relegated in 2014 and only an LNR reprieve saved them from being regelated into Federale 1 following financial problems. 

That threat of embarrassing demotion was avoided and Biarritz are now mid-table in Pro D2 with hopes of making it through to the end-of-season promotion play-offs. 

Along with O’Callaghan and Hart, they are said to have also lined up Leroy Houston, the former Australian international who is now at Bordeaux, for a move down the French Atlantic coast.  

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