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Johnny Sexton is signing up for a Leinster reunion

By Nick Purewal

Johnny Sexton is expected to complete a four-year deal to return from France to former club Leinster at the end of the coming season. Ireland fly-half Sexton is understood to have rejected a new contract offer from current club Racing Metro.

The 29-year-old will hand Ireland a big Rugby World Cup boost if he returns to Leinster next summer, falling back under IRFU control. Head coach Joe Schmidt lamented Ireland's lack of influence over Sexton last season, with the Kiwi fearing his star playmaker had been overworked by Paris club Racing. Schmidt and Ireland will enjoy full access to British and Irish Lions star Sexton should he complete his anticipated Leinster return.

Sexton had the option of staying for a third year in France, but the French Top 14 club were keen for him to sign a new long-term contract. The 45-cap fly-half had admitted struggling to settle to life in France after his move away from Ireland last season.

Sexton remains Ireland's sole front-line star plying his trade abroad.

The IRFU fended off the lures of big money contracts in France last season, tying down the likes of Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan, with captain and talisman Paul O'Connell signing a new contract too. Leinster's Rob Kearney and Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony will be chief among those whose contracts expire at the end of the coming season.

Sexton's move to France was expected to herald a host of team-mates following suit.

The IRFU headed that off at the pass, and will seek to capitalise on Sexton's impending return to convince another clutch of out-of-contract stars to stay put.

Sexton's troubles at Racing were well-documented last term, the outside-half called on to play 13 matches in 12 weeks, causing a hamstring tweak to threaten his involvement in Ireland's autumn Test series.

England's women rugby stars will be handed the chance to turn professional for the first time next month, the Rugby Football Union has announced.

The RFU will issue 20 central contracts to form a fully professional England Women's Sevens squad for the forthcoming season, building up to the short-format discipline's debut Olympic inclusion at Rio 2016.

England's amateurs won the Women's Rugby World Cup for the second time earlier this month.

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