Ian Madigan to leave Leinster for Bordeaux
Ian Madigan will leave Leinster next summer to join French Top 14 club Bordeaux Begles.
Ireland utility back Madigan was heavily courted by Harlequins and Bristol, as well as being offered fresh terms by Leinster, but has opted to make the switch to France.
The 26-year-old will leave his home province in a bid to secure a frontline playmaking role after understudying 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 Begles 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."
Madigan excelled in Ireland's 24-9 victory over France that set up a Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, stepping in for Sexton at short notice.
The talented fly-half was unable to repeat that performance against the Pumas however, as Ireland slipped to their sixth World Cup quarter-final defeat, still yet to reach the last-four at the global competition.
Madigan has long been blessed with all the raw attributes to thrive at the highest levels but has been unable to force his way into a regular starting shirt with either Leinster or Ireland.
This move to France will be designed to help him raise his game to new levels, while his departure represents the first high-profile Ireland star to move abroad since Sexton's ill-fated stint at Racing 92 in Paris.
Before completing his move however, Madigan was warned that plying his trade abroad could "disadvantage" his chances of Test rugby.
"Straight away the players that go leave themselves at a disadvantage," the Irish Rugby Football Union high performance director David Nucifora told the Irish Times.
"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. Does it mean that he is at a disadvantage behind the boys playing in Ireland? Yes, it does."
Leinster coach Leo Cullen admitted he hopes Madigan can return to his home province in the future.
"Ian has been a tremendous servant to Leinster and Irish rugby and we wish him well with his move abroad," said Leinster head coach Cullen.
"We fully understand his motivations for deciding to join Bordeaux.
"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.
"The key thing for us all now is that we are fully focused on a huge game on Friday against Connacht.
"After some really pleasing parts to our last performance it's vital that we build on that and look to continually improve."