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Virimi Vakatawa leaves Bristol Bears after one season

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears have confirmed the departure of former France centre Virimi Vakatawa after one season at Ashton Gate.

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The 32-year-old signed for the Bears in September 2023 on a one-year deal in a move that revived his career after he was forced to retire the year before due to a heart condition.

The 31-cap France international went on to make 19 appearances for the Bears last season, scoring four tries, as his side fell just short of making the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals.

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Vakatawa ran out for the Barbarians on Saturday against Fiji, rekindling the midfield partnership he had with Gael Fickou for Racing 92 and France.

The next move in the centre’s career has not been announced.

Fixture
Internationals
Argentina
13 - 28
Full-time
France
All Stats and Data

“Thank you to Pat for giving me the opportunity to come and play here in Bristol,” Vakatawa said after his departure was announced.

“It’s a great team and I’ve loved my time here, even though it’s for one season only.

“The boys and everyone who works in the club has been so lovely and so welcoming to me since I first got here and I’m very grateful.

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“Lastly to the fans: thanks for all your support throughout the year. I wish Pat and the boys all the very best in the future. Merci beaucoup.”

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam added: “V made an outstanding impact on and off the field and repaid the faith the club showed in giving him an opportunity back in the professional game.

“To do what he has done through the challenges and obstacles following time away from the game shows the mark of the man. It’s been a real pleasure and privilege to have a player of V’s quality and experience play for the Bristol Bears.

“We all thank him for his commitment and efforts for the Bears and we wish him and his family all the best for the future.”

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