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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Dave Winter/INPHO Virimi Vakatawa scoring a try against Ireland during the 2020 Six Nations.
# Shock
France star Vakatawa forced to retire from rugby aged 30
The talismanic back has been forbidden from continuing his professional career in France on medical grounds.

FRANCE CENTRE VIRIMI Vakatawa has been forced to retire from rugby on medical grounds, his club Racing 92 have announced.

In a statement, the Parisian club said that it was “particularly saddened by this terrible news”, and that “Racing 92 gives its full support to Virimi Vakatawa and immediately puts in place all the measures to support its emblematic player as best as possible in these particularly difficult times.”

Racing confirmed that the medical committee of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) had forbidden the powerful centre from continuing to play professional rugby in France.

The exact reasons behind the committee’s decision were not disclosed but it’s understood that Racing will hold a press conference on Tuesday at noon local time, at which Vakatawa will be present, to elaborate on the details surrounding his retirement.

A New Zealand-born Fijian, Vakatawa stood out as both a union and league player in his secondary school, Nasinu, before moving to Paris at 17 having been recruited by his fellow Fijian, Sireli Bobo.

He became eligible to play for France in 2013 and was released from his contract with Racing in order to become a full-time sevens player for Les Bleus. In 2016, he was called up to Guy Noves’ Six Nations squad and scored a try on his international XVs debut against Italy — this despite his having not played the longer code at club level for three years.

In June of 2016, he signed a deal with the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) to represent France in both sevens and XVs. He played for the sevens side at the Rio 2016 Olympics before announcing himself on the world stage in the longer code that November, scoring a hat-trick off the wing against Samoa and another try against Australia. A week after starting his and Les Bleus’ third November test against New Zealand, Vakatawa was named the Impact Player of the Tournament at the 2016 Dubai Sevens.

The following June, he was released from his FFR contract in order to find a club in the XVs code, four years after he had last played for Racing. He re-signed with the Ile-de-France outfit for the 2017/18 season and became one of their talismans over the next five years.

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While his position for France came under threat from Jonathan Danty and Yoram Moefana last season, Vakatawa started for Fabien Galthié’s side in both summer tests against Japan.

He scored 10 tries in 31 caps for the French XVs side, as well as 60 in 82 appearances for the sevens team.

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