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RUGBY: Bath confirm Barkley departure
1:58pm Thursday 20th September 2012 in Sport
BATH Rugby have confirmed that Olly Barkley will leave the club to join French side Racing Metro.
Barkley will be available for two more games at Bath, against London Irish this weekend and Sale on September 29, before joining the Paris club as a so-called medical joker.
The Paris club saw two fly-halves suffer long-term injuries and are without their regular number 10 Juan Martin Hernandez due to Rugby Championship commitments with Argentina..
French newspaper L'Equipe repoted today that Racing president Jacky Lorenzetti and Bath owner Bruce Craig had agreed the transfer, with the French club then waiting on the answer of Barkley, in his second spell with Bath after rejoining them from Gloucester in 2009, .
His latest stint at the Recreation Ground saw him suffer a broken leg on two separate occasions, but he is now fully fit and had appeared to be a key part of a squad under the coaching direction of South African Gary Gold.
Barkley, who has won 23 caps but does not feature in the current England Elite or Saxons squads, started the Aviva Premiership season impressively for Bath, his goal-kicking an integral part of victories over Worcester and Wasps in the opening trwo games
He said: "Bath Rugby is in my heart and it always will be. 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'd like to thank the club for their understanding, and also the Bath supporters who have been amazing to me in my time here."
Head coach, Gary Gold added: "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, but every now and then an offer lands on the table that a bloke just can't refuse.
"We are sorry to see him go, but he goes with our blessing. He will always be welcome here".
Bath Rugby have also confirmed they have signed hooker Brett Sharman on a short-term loan as injury cover for hooker Rob Webber, who is expected to be out until the new year.
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.
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