Taulupe Faletau, nella prossima stagione, lascera’ i NG Dragons e la Guinness Pro12 per iniziare una nuova avventura in Aviva Premiership con Bath. Questa decisione chiude, di fatto, la ‘telenovela’ sul futuro del terza linea gallese che si trascinava ormai da qualche tempo.
La notizia e’ stata confermata ufficialmente da tutte le parti in causa, ovvero il club Termale, la Region del Rodney Parade e la Welsh Rugby Union, con, ovviamente, toni diversi.
I Newport Gwent Dragons sono stati i primi a dare la notizia con un comunicato stampa in cui esprimevano un certo disappunto per la conclusione della vicenda – a fine ottobre, infatti, Warren Gatland e la WRU avevano bloccato la trattativa tra Dragons e Bath, come ricordano prontamente nel comunicato: “(…) NG Dragons are able to confirm that they have today been notified by the player’s agent that he is to sign for Bath Rugby next season. This follows the refusal by Warren Gatland to sanction a transfer request by the Dragons for the remainder of this season at the end of the Rugby World Cup. In light of this decision, Taulupe made it known in mid-November that his preferred option was to sign a National Dual Contract and remain with the Dragons“.
Le parole rilasciate dal Chief Executive della region del Rodney Parade, Stuart Davies, dopo un preambolo in cui riassume la vicenda, sono anche piuttosto pesanti: “We welcomed Taulupe announcing his desire to stay at the Dragons, since he has consistently stated that he would not wish to play for any other Welsh region. Following the failed move to Bath this season, it was our sincere hope that negotiations with the Union would be concluded successfully and we would retain him with the support of a NDC. As such we were willing to support the negotiation process in whatever way was necessary.
This is the worst possible outcome for us given all that has gone before, and it leaves us feeling extremely disappointed as well as significantly worse off financially“.
La WRU ci informa che “National Dual Contract negotiations with Newport Gwent Dragons player Taulupe Faletau, continued until the WRU were notified of his decision to accept a move to Bath Rugby. During the negotiations the WRU and Newport Gwent Dragons continued to liaise on all developments.” Anche la federazione gallese, per motivi diversi, non riesce a contenere il disappunto per il modo in cui si e’ conclusa la trattiva: ” (…) The WRU is disappointed but accepts the player’s decision in which he identified a desire to pursue a new rugby challenge at this stage of his career.”
Le uniche parti soddisfatte dell’outcome, quindi, sembrano il giocatore e il suo nuovo employer, Bath Rugby.
Dopo una breve biografia del 24enne terza linea, primo Pacific Islander a vestire la maglia del Galles nel 2011, il comunicato ufficiale del club inglese ci regala le prime parole di Faletau dopo la fine della trattiva: “The way Bath approach the game suits my style of play, which was a big factor in me wanting to join. The opportunity to work with Darren [Edwards, Bath Rugby First Team Coach] again after doing so with Wales U20 and the Dragons was also too good to turn down. I’d like to thank Dragons for everything they’ve done for me in my career.”
L’Head Coach dei Termali, Mike Ford, approfitta dell’accordo con il talentuoso terza linea per fissare gli obiettivi del club per la stagione in corso e l’immediato futuro: “When we talk about this Club being ambitious, we’re not just paying lip service: signing a player of Taulupe’s calibre is evidence of that. He is a world-class player who never takes a backwards step and he will add competition to an equally fantastic back row. We’re continuing to build a formidable squad that will challenge for silverware for years to come.”