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Warren Gatland ‘completely understands’ George North retirement and French switch

14 Mar 2024 2 minute read
Wales head coach Warren Gatland. Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire.

Warren Gatland says he completely understands George North’s decision to retire from international rugby.

North, who has won 120 caps for Wales and scored 47 tries, will leave the Ospreys and join French club Provence this summer.

The 31-year-old’s switch to France was revealed earlier this term against a backdrop of Wales’ four professional regions – Ospreys, Dragons, Scarlets and Cardiff – facing budget cuts next season.

It is understood the Ospreys were keen to keep North, who is the latest big-name signing for a Provence club with ambitions of playing in France’s Top 14 league.


“I didn’t really try stopping him. I completely understood his decision with him going to France and taking the family with him,” Wales head coach Gatland said, following North’s announcement that he will end his Test career after Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations finale against Italy.

“It’s an opportunity for him. With the potential difficulties of travelling back and forth, he wants to give it his all if he’s still involved in international rugby.

“At the moment he has made that decision to focus on the family and playing in France.

“He did say if the opportunity was there he’d like to have stayed in Wales, but he wasn’t given that. So that’s probably made his decision for him.

“I don’t know the economics of what he was offered in France. We are all aware of the restrictions on what the regions have been able to offer players, and what their agents expect.

“If you get offered a big contract in your late 20s or early 30s to go somewhere else you have to consider that because you are coming to the end of your career.

“You don’t know what is going to happen post-rugby, and so they are the considerations.”

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