TOULON – French star Mathieu Bastareaud is set to become the biggest name to play club rugby in the United States after the centre announced on Sunday he will move to New York after this year's World Cup.
The 30-year-old will join New York Rugby United in Major League Rugby for one season on loan, before returning to his current club Toulon for the final season of his contract.
“I've decided to join New York after the World Cup,” he told Canal+ after Toulon's Top 14 win over Bordeaux-Begles on Sunday.
“I wanted a change. It's the best compromise for me in terms of my family life and life experience.”
Bastareaud, capped 54 times by France, had been linked with a possible move to Super Rugby and South African franchise Sharks.
But he will follow former England back Ben Foden in making the switch to the US, who have qualified for a sixth straight World Cup appearance in Japan in September.
“Mathieu Bastareaud is a guy apart. He has made history at this club and has given a lot,” said Toulon manager Patrice Collazo.
“He needs to see something else and breathe a little bit. He's going to discover New York.
“He'll be a different man on his return. In the last three games (of the season), I want to see a great Mathieu Bastareaud.”
France get their 2019 World Cup campaign under way against Argentina in Tokyo on September 21, before further Pool C matches against England, the United States and Tonga.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)