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Top 14 move confirmed for Japan back-rower Tevita Tatafu

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Japan back-rower Tevita Tatafu will stay on in France after the 2023 Rugby World Cup as Suntory Sungoliath have confirmed he will join Bordeaux for the 2023/24 Top 14 season. The recently-turned 27-year-old from Tonga, who came through the age-grade ranks with the Japanese, debuted for Jamie Joseph’s Test team in 2021 and was a starter versus England and a replacement against France in last November’s Autumn Nations Series.

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A statement read: “It has been decided that Tevita Tatafu, who currently belongs to Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath, will transfer to Union Bordeaux-Begles, one of the Top 14 clubs, after the NTT Japan Rugby League One 2022/23 season.”

Tatafu said: “Thank you for always supporting me. I would like to seize this opportunity and do my best to make use of what I learned at Sungoliath and show my growth. I will do my best so that Sungoliath can win League One this season without thinking about it. Please continue to support us.”

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General manager Naoya Okubo added: “Tevita’s departure from the team will be a huge blow, but I believe that this challenge will lead to his personal growth.

“I hope that he will take on a bold challenge in Bordeaux and show us how much he has grown. Also, if you ever come back to Japan after completing the challenge in France, please come back to Sungoliath. The whole team hopes that you will.”

The arrival of back-rower Tatafu at Bordeaux will reinforce a section of the French team that will lose Alban Roussel and Tom Willis, who are expected to respectively join Lyon and Saracens. His singing is the fourth arrival for 2023/24, with Paul Abadie, Romain Latterrade and Damian Penaud already lined up to join the club that is undergoing a major revamp following the exit of Christophe Urios as boss.

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