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Paul O’Connell latest to join the list of Munster Rugby exiles

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IN something of a surprise move, Limerick rugby legend Paul O’Connell has taken up a coaching role with French TOP 14 side Stade Francais. He has signed a two-year deal with an option of a third but will feel at home there with his former Young Munster and Munster colleague Mikey Prendergast also on the French club’s payroll.
Paul, who has been linked with a proposed Rugby Museum project in his native city, was helping with the coaching of the Ireland under 20s last season. With 108 Irish caps and a glittering playing career with Munster behind him, there was speculation that he might throw in his lot with the southern Irish province coaching staff. Getting experience in France will, no doubt, be beneficial for the big lock forward if he decides to return.
The injury in the 2015 World Cup proved to a turning point in the 35-year-old’s career and the disappointment of having to retire with the hamstring injury after signing for Toulon was unexpected.
According to a statement from the French club, Paul is quoted as saying: “I am really happy to join Paris and to be able to work in this big club alongside Heyneke Meyer.”
Sports Director and Head Coach at Stade Meyer said: “I am really pleased to welcome Paul to the Stade Francais Paris family. Paul will bring his value and experience to our coaching team through his proven leadership abilities and his tactical and technical skills. This is a major asset for the club and it shows the ambitions and goals of Stade Français Paris.”
With Ronan O’Gara moving to New Zealand after coaching with the other Paris club Racing 92 and Donnacha Ryan established in Paris and Simon Zebo and now settling in there, it appears that opportunities abroad are many for Irish rugby stars.

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