Botha set to join Toulon

Rugby World Cup winner Bakkies Botha will be unveiled as a Toulon player on Tuesday, according to the French club's official website. [more]

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Rugby World Cup winner Bakkies Botha will be unveiled as a Toulon player on Tuesday, according to the French club’s official website.

A deal has been done to reunite 28-year-old Botha with international team-mate Victor Matfield in France, despite claims to the contrary emanating from South Africa.

A statement on the Toulon website on Monday read: "In a new thunderbolt for the French championship, John Philip ‘Bakkies’ Botha has joined Rugby Club Toulonnais.

"The South African second row, winner of the 2007 World Cup, joins his compatriot Victor Matfield in the red and black shirt.

"John Philip Botha is set to arrive in Toulon on February 26. He has signed a three-month contract with the option for an extra two years."

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Last week, Super 14 champions Blue Bulls denied that Botha had signed a deal with Toulon and said they had refused the French club’s request to release the player.

The Bulls’ business and communication manager Ian Schwartz said last week: "He has a contract with us and can’t play anywhere else."

Schwartz confirmed the Bulls had already turned down two requests to release Botha – one from Toulon and the other from the player himself.

"There have been no further negotiations and nothing has been placed on the table since we turned down those requests, so as it stands Botha still has a contract with us," he added.

"Botha is bound by the International Rugby Board and South African Rugby Union regulations, which makes it impossible for him to play anywhere until he gets a release from us.

"The reports in the media that say Botha is going to play for Toulon in the near future are only speculative and simply not true."

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