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French star joins Premiership side

TRANSFER NEWS: Virimi Vakatawa, regarded as one of the most talented players on the planet, will make his explosive return to rugby in a Bristol Bears jersey.

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The barnstorming French international, who has made 31 appearances for his country, is formerly of European giants Racing 92 and was nominated for European Player of the Year in 2020.

Following an independent review by an expert panel of leading sports cardiologists, Vakatawa has been granted clearance to return to the professional game and agrees a deal until the end of the 2023/24 season.

The 31-year-old scored 49 tries for Racing in 146 appearances, making his name as one of the most dangerous backs in the world.

Director of Rugby, Pat Lam, said: “I am really pleased to be able to bring a player of Virimi’s class and quality to Bristol and the Premiership as it’s exciting for our team, our supporters and our competition.

“I had the privilege of getting to know V better on and off the field recently and it was very clear to me that he would add real value to the Bears and would bring more depth and experience to our backline.

“Virimi is desperate to get back to playing at the highest level – for the Bears to be able to bring in a player of his quality is a huge statement for the Premiership and we’re delighted that he has chosen to continue his rugby journey with us.

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Vakatawa added: “I’m excited to be joining Bristol Bears and to be continuing my rugby career at the highest level. After working with Pat during my time with the Barbarians, I knew that this was the right place for me and I can’t wait to play in front of the Bristol fans.

“The Premiership has always been an exciting competition, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it this season, and representing the Bears in the Champions Cup.”

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