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France centre banned from playing over medical condition

France Test centre Virimi Vakatawa has been forced to end his professional career in the country due to an unspecified medical condition.

The medical committee of the French National Rugby League, which manages the French pro game, told his Paris-based Racing 92 it was forbidding Vakatawa from continuing his professional career there.

The club didn’t elaborate. It organised a news conference on Wednesday AEST with Vakatawa.

“Saddened by this terrible announcement,” Racing said in a statement. “Racing 92 gives its full support to Virimi Vakatawa and immediately put in place all the arrangements to support its emblematic player as best as possible in these particularly difficult times.”

The 30-year-old Vakatawa was born in Rangiora in New Zealand, raised in Fiji, and arrived in France at 17.

He was convinced to join Racing by Sireli Bobo in 2010 and became eligible for France from 2013. Sevens was first to utilise his pace, power and phenomenal footwork, and he went to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

He made a try-scoring debut for the national XVs side in the 2016 Six Nations after gaining citizenship. A knee injury prevented him from playing for France as they won the Six Nations Grand Slam this year, and he played his first Tests in more than a year in July on the tour of Japan. He has 32 caps and 10 Test tries.


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