Jonathan Sexton has ended months of speculation by announcing he will rejoin Leinster at the end of the season. The IRFU confirmed the player has signed a four-year contract that runs until the end of November 2019.
The 29-year-old Dubliner confirmed he will resume his career with the Irish province at the start of next season, thereby bringing an end to his two-season spell with Racing Metro 92.
"I am pleased to be rejoining Leinster, the club where I started my professional career. I grew up playing my rugby in Leinster and always wanting to pull on the blue jersey so I am delighted to be able to return to play my club rugby in Ireland. "
Sexton explained it was a decision made for his family and his “international career”.
“We are missing Ireland and our family in Ireland are missing us. I have a great rapport with everyone here, it was a very hard decision to make.
“I haven’t spoken to any other French club other than Racing.
"Now, I don't want contract talk but to concentrate on Racing. I don't regret at all coming to France or Racing, it has been an incredible experience.
Sexton made 110 appearances for Leinster between2006 and 2013 scoring 1,015 points. He won three European Cups, two Pro12 titles and a European Challenge Cup.
He made his Ireland debut in the 41-6 victory over Fiji in November 2009, going on to win 45 caps for his country and scoring 391 points. His most recent appearance for Ireland was in the 23-17 defeat of Argentina during the summer.
He played in all five games during the Six Nations Championship winning campaign and toured with the 2013 series winning British & Irish Lions squad, starting in all three Tests against Australia. His decision is a massive boost for the province.
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne, said: “Jonathan is one the best outhalves in world rugby and the IRFU are delighted that he will be playing his rugby in Ireland. Irish rugby will benefit hugely from having a player of his calibre playing full-time in Ireland.”
Sexton is currently sidelined having suffered a broken jaw in last weekend’s French Top 14 victory (17-10) over Toulon. He will be out for five to six weeks. Sexton’s decision will be a blow to Racing Metro 92 who were keen to retain his services.
Owner Jacky Lorenzetti offered the Irish outhalf a four-year contract extension and backs' coach Laurent Labit had recently spoken about how keen they were for him to see out his playing days in Paris.
The Parisian club was linked on Thursday with the possibility of recruiting French outhalf Remi Tales from Castres Olympique.
Tales, who has won 10 caps for France, is probably now their preferred choice to replace Sexton and according to L’Equipe they are willing to offer him a €400,000 per annum deal.
The 30-year-old is out of contract at Castres at the end of the current season, when Sexton’s deal (he had the option of a third year, irrespective of the new offer) with Racing Metro is due to run out.
The Frenchman is a logical choice as the current Racing Metro coaches, Labit and Laurent Travers, worked with Tales when they coached Castres to the 2013 French Top 14 Championship title.
The six foot one inch Tales, won nine of his 10 caps for the national side at outhalf - the other and his first was as a replacement scrumhalf - and has been largely the first choice of French coach Philippe Saint André. He started in two summer Tests against Australia.
Racing Metro signed South African Johan Goosen as back-up to Sexton for this season and he’s now going to get the opportunity to run the team.