Barkley says au revoir to Bath and confirms deal with Racing Metro
13:23 GMT, 20 September 2012
French fancy: Barkley will join Racing Metro at the end of the month
Bath have confirmed that fly-half Olly Barkley will move to French club Racing Metro 92 at the end of the month.
The 30-year-old England international will join the Paris-based outfit as a medical joker after Bath's Premiership fixture against Sale at the Recreation Ground on September 29.
Barkley, who is also available for this weekend's visit to London Irish, paid tribute to the Somerset club but said that moving to France was an offer he could not refuse.
'Bath Rugby is in my heart and it always will be,' Barkley said. '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.
He added: '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.'
Barkley, who has won 23 caps but does not feature in the current England Elite or Saxons squads, answers an injury SOS for Racing less than a month from launching a Heineken Cup campaign that sees them in the same group as Saracens, Munster and Edinburgh.
Out of favour: Barkley has not played for England since 2008
Juan Martin Hernandez is currently on Rugby Championship duty with Argentina, while two other No 10s – Jonathan Wisniewski and Benjamin Dambielle – are nursing long-term injuries.
The move to France brings to an end Barkley's second spell with Bath after he rejoined them from Gloucester in 2009.
His latest stint at the Rec 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.
'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,' said Gold.
'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 have also confirmed they have signed hooker Brett Sharman on a short-term loan as injury cover for Rob Webber.