Vakatawa could return to Test rugby in 2025
Virimi Vakatawa, the former France centre, could be on the cusp of a remarkable return to the Test arena as early as 2025.
Vakatawa’s journey to this potential comeback has been nothing short of extraordinary. In 2022, the rugby world was shocked when it was revealed at a press conference helmed by Fabien Galthie that the exceptional attacking talent had been withdrawn from Test rugby due to a heart condition, a setback that effectively ended his France career.
His future in rugby hung in the balance, with uncertainty shrouding any further involvement in the game for the New Zealand-born winger.
However, as initially revealed by RugbyPassBristol sign ex France international Virimi Vakatawa, Vakatawa made a triumphant return to international rugby earlier this summer, donning the famous Barbarians jersey in a one-off clash in Brive against Samoa in a Rugby World Cup warm-up.
The fairy tale continued when it was announced this week that Vakatawa had inked a deal with Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears, marking his return to the professional rugby circuit via the Gallagher Premiership a little over a year after it appeared to be all over.
Now, World Rugby’s relatively new regulations have opened an intriguing door for Vakatawa. Under these rules, a player can represent the country of their ancestry provided they haven’t played for the nation they first declared for in three years. Vakatawa’s last appearance for France was in 2022 against Japan, placing him within the eligibility window for Fiji in June 2025.
Should Vakatawa choose to declare for Fiji, and should he be selected, it would be a homecoming of epic proportions and a boon for Fiji’s national team.
The question is however: could Vakatawa – who will be 33 in 2025 – make it back into the star-studded Fijian backline that currently includes the likes of Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova and Waisea Nayacalevu?
Nayacalevu will be 35 in 2025 while Radradra will be 33, the same age as Vakatawa, so age isn’t exactly on his side but nor does it rule him out.
Any theoretical Vakatawa accession into the team also doesn’t factor in the conveyor belt of talent that the Fijiian rugby has become, with Pacific Super Rugby side Fijian Drua already producing a number of talented and powerful rookies that will be eager to step into the boots left by any departing stars, not to mention the Sevens pathway that continues to develop superstars with crossover potential.
Whatever Vakatawa decides in regards to Test rugby, a theoretical stint for the Flying Fijians – if selected – would certainly be a romantic notion for rugby fans.
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