Belfast Telegraph

Phillips looks to the future with Racing Metro

By Alex Lowe

Racing Metro have signed Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Phillips had been without a club since having his contract with Bayonne terminated in October for allegedly turning up drunk to a video analysis session.

But Racing revealed they had approached the 31-year-old over a future move to the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir before the alleged events that led to his exit from Bayonne took place.

A statement published on Racing's official website read: "Racing Metro 92 welcome the signing of Wales international Mike Phillips.

"Racing have been in discussion with Phillips' representatives for several months to recruit him for the 2014-15 season.

"Recent events that took place in Bayonne have only hastened his arrival in the Hauts-de-Seine.

"Phillips is committed for a period of two and a half years. He will be at the club on Tuesday and can feature in the European Cup meeting with Harlequins in Nantes on Saturday."

Phillips was sacked by Bayonne after he was accused of being intoxicated when the squad met on October 11, the morning after Grenoble had been defeated 37-6 in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

The two-time British and Irish Lions tourist subsequently announced he planned to issue legal proceedings against Bayonne after hearing of his dismissal through a French newspaper.

Phillips played in three Wales's four autumn internationals in November, featuring in the win over Argentina and the defeats to South Africa and Australia.

At Paris-based Racing, Phillips will link up fellow Lions Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Roberts.

Meanwhile, New Zealand have dominated the International Rugby Board awards with Kieran Read being crowned player of the year.

The All Blacks, who won all 14 of their Tests in 2013, took team of the year and Steve Hansen was voted coach of the year.

Read has been outstanding at number eight throughout the past 12 months and has become the heartbeat of New Zealand's pack.

The 28-year-old was chosen ahead of fellow nominees Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth, Italy number eight Sergio Parisse and New Zealand centre Ben Smith.

He is the third All Black to be named player of the year, following on from Dan Carter (2005/2012) and Richie McCaw (2006/2009/2010).

New Zealand were crowned team of the year for the seventh time and Hansen coach of the year for the second year in succession.

"I'd like to congratulate Kieran on his award as it is well deserved," Hansen said. "He has been outstanding and has been a major contributor all season. It's been a big year and I'm incredibly proud of what the boys have achieved."

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