By Adam Ellis
Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb will leave the PRO14 side at the end of the season after agreeing a move to Toulon.
The Wales international will end an 11-year association with the club he has made 139 appearances for when his national dual contract expires next summer, signing a three-year contract with Fabien Galthié’s side.
Measures taken by the WRU to stave off players leaving for the riches of France mean national team head coach Warren Gatland can only select four overseas players for Test matches – a number which will drop to two in 2019 ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
A joint-statement released by Ospreys and the WRU commented: “In line with our intention to keep our best players in Wales, every effort to retain the player has been made.
“While the news is disappointing there is an understanding that on occasion market forces will make this impractical.”
Webb played second fiddle to Conor Murray during the summer’s Lions tour of New Zealand, scoring late on in the first Test as New Zealand took a 1-0 series lead at Eden Park.
Seeking new opportunities with the three-time Champions Cup winners, the 28-year-old explained how it was a tough decision to be leaving Ospreys for the south of France.
“It’s a huge wrench to be leaving the Ospreys after spending all of my playing career with the team,” Webb said.
“I have made lifelong friends on and off the pitch and I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of the coaching team, players and all of the staff involved within the Ospreys organisation.
“I will continue to give the region everything I can to make sure we have the best season possible and I would like to conclude by saying a heartfelt thanks to everyone within the Region for helping me achieve my goals within rugby.
“I would like to thank the WRU and the Ospreys for their efforts during this process.”