Ian Madigan will leave Leinster next summer to join the French club Bordeaux Bègles
The 26-year-old Ireland utility back was offered a renewed contract by Leinster although the IRFU wanted Madigan to move to Munster. There were also lucrative offers from English Premiership clubs Bristol and Harlequins.
However, despite these offers, Madigan has opted to make the switch to France. He will leave his home province in a bid to secure a frontline playmaking role after being understudy to Johnny Sexton and formerly Jimmy Gopperth.
“While this was a very difficult decision for me to make, leaving the club that I have represented my whole professional life, I feel that the timing is right and it is a challenge that I’m looking forward to,” said Madigan.
“Bordeaux Bègles are a team that are making strides in the Top 14 and in Europe and I look forward to being part of that journey and to experiencing a new style of rugby and a new life in France.
“I’d like to thank everyone in Leinster Rugby for their support over the years. I’ve played with some brilliant players and have worked with some exceptional coaches and while I am reluctant to single one out I want to mention Richie Murphy who has been by my side from my days in the sub-academy and has been a huge influence on me.
“There are a huge few weeks and months ahead with Leinster, and I look forward to playing my part and trying to finish the season out as strongly as possible for them.”
Until his current contract, Madigan was reportedly on an €80,000 development deal. His new deal with UBB is believed to be at least €500,000 a season.
There is also significant tax reductions for those playing professional sport in France.
IRFU performance director David Nucifora stated last week that Madigan’s chances of a national call-up will now decrease.
“If Ian decided to go and he played 10 every week, we wouldn’t ignore him, we don’t ignore any of the players that might be overseas. We watch them all very carefully,” Nucifora said, before adding: “Does it mean that he is at disadvantage behind the boys playing in Ireland? Yes, it does.”
It was inevitable @Ian_madigan would leave. Deserves to start as a 10 somewhere so good luck to him. Really hope it works out.
— Brian O’Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) December 28, 2015
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen also backed Madigan’s decision. “We fully understand his motivations for deciding to join Bordeaux,” said Cullen. “Ian has come through the Leinster academy and age-grade system and at 26 still has a huge future in the game and we may see him return to Leinster at some point.”