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Vannes have torn up their two-year deal to sign Alapati Leiua

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

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Former Samoan international Alapati Leiua has had his deal to join Vannes scrapped just weeks ahead of the start of the 2022/23 PRO D2 season in France. It was April 28 when Bristol confirmed that the soon-to-be 34-year-old would be leaving after a five-year stay featuring more than 100 appearances.

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At the time, Bristol boss Pat Lam said: “Alapati has truly been a fantastic servant to the Bears and a leader for our culture and environment. He has made an immense contribution on and off the field, laying the foundations for the next chapter of the Bears’ journey.

“We are delighted for Alapati, his wife Carmel and son Manu about the opportunity that has come up to play in France and to experience a different culture. He can be proud of what he has achieved and the standards that he has set. He departs with our love and best wishes.”

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However, the decision by Leiua to link up with Vannes has now encountered a deal-breaking hitch four months later.

The second-tier club that has ex-England international Nick Abendanon on its books is due to open its latest campaign with an August 26 away game at Soyaux-Angoulême and they are now planning for that match – and for the season – minus their newly-signed Samoan.

A media release by Vannes read: “Alapati Leiua will ultimately not join Rugby Club Vannes. Despite an agreement reached to join Rugby Club Vannes this summer, the Samoan centre did not pass the medical examinations required by the protocol of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby. We wish him all the best for the rest of his career.”

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It’s a devastating development for Leiua as he had secured a two-year deal at Vannes through to the end of the 2023/24 season, but he is now suddenly on the lookout for a new club. Having made a Super Rugby breakthrough at the Hurricanes in 2010, he came to England after joining Wasps for the 2014/15 season and he stayed there for three seasons before switching to Bristol.

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