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Virimi Vakatawa to exit Bristol

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Jun 25, 2024

Former French international Virimi Vakatawa is set to depart Bristol Bears at the conclusion of his one-year contract. This calls to an end the 32-year-old’s time in the west of England after making 19 appearances and scoring four tries for the club.

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Vakatawa had arrived at Bristol after a hiatus from rugby after being banned from playing in the French league by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby’s medical committee over concerns about his health.

At the time, Racing 92 doctor Sylvain Blanchard had said: “He must stop his career in France for cardiological reasons. A cardiac anomaly had been detected before the 2019 World Cup in Japan. This anomaly, which is not linked to rugby, has been monitored but it is an evolving pathology. The risk has become too great.”

Whilst there has been no confirmation regarding Vakatawa’s next steps after leaving Bristol, Director of Rugby, Pat Lam, said: “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.”

Vakatawa added: “Thank you to Pat for giving me the opportunity to come and play here in Bristol, it’s a great team and I’ve loved my time here, even though it’s for one season only.

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“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.

“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.”

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