Olly Barkley leaves Bath Rugby for 'a chance of a lifetime'
Bath yesterday confirmed the departure of their England international back Olly Barkley to French club Racing Metro 92.
Fly-half Barkley, 30, will be available for Bath’s next two Aviva Premiership games against London Irish tomorrow and Sale on September 29.
Barkley, who has made more than 200 appearances for Bath, will move to Racing as a so-called “medical joker” after the Paris club saw two fly-halves suffer long-term injuries and are without their regular number ten Juan Martin Hernandez due to Rugby Championship commitments with Argentina. Barkley, who has won 23 England caps, said his move to Paris was “the opportunity of a lifetime”.
“Bath Rugby is in my heart and it always will be,” said Barkley, who grew up in Wadebridge and played for Wadebridge Camels.
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“When I no longer play the game, this will be the club I come to watch. I will be forever a Bath boy, but this, for me, was simply the opportunity of a lifetime and one I just couldn’t ignore.
“I will miss the club always, and I wish all of my mates here the very best.
“I believe they are a special group with special coaches, and I hope they achieve everything they desire. I would like to thank the club for their understanding, and also the Bath supporters, who have been amazing to me in my time here.”
Bath head coach Gary Gold said: ‘‘Barks is a great bloke and a top player. I could not have been more impressed with both his attitude and his incredibly professional approach since I arrived at the club.
“As a senior player, he could not have worked harder or been more welcoming to us as a group of coaches.”
Barkley’s farewell is set to be at the Recreation Ground against Sale, after which Bath will have New Zealand World Cup winner Stephen Donald, young English prospect Tom Heathcote and former Leicester player Sam Vesty among their fly-half options.
Bath, meanwhile, have confirmed the signing of former Northampton hooker Brett Sharman on a short-term loan as injury cover for Rob Webber.
Northampton terminated South African Sharman’s contract last month – a day after it emerged he was being investigated by Saints over an offensive tweet about double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah.
Northampton, though, said Sharman’s contract had been ended on medical grounds due to a knee injury that has sidelined him since January.