Former All Blacks loose forward Elliot Dixon is on the move from Japan to France to play alongside ex-New Zealand test midfielder Francis Saili at Biarritz.
Dixon has left the Ricoh Black Rams to sign a two-year deal with Biarritz Olympique, a newly-promoted Top 14 League team sponsored by Grindr – the world's largest LGBTQ+ dating app.
His signing was confirmed on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time) by Biarritz’s ambitious president Jean-Baptiste Aldigé.
The club also announced it had agreed another two-year deal for Saili, who joined last season from English club Harlequins.
Biarritz had already confirmed former Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani was joining from Super Rugby Australia’s Western Force.
Dixon, 31, played for Southland from 2010 to 2017 and made 103 appearances for the Highlanders between 2011 and 2019.
The Māori All Blacks stalwart was part of the Highlander’s Super Rugby title winning team in 2015, scoring a try in the final victory over the Hurricanes and earning the man of the match award.
He earned three caps for the All Blacks in 2016 against Wales, Argentina and Italy, grabbing a try in his final test appearance in Rome.
Dixon left for Japan in 2019, signing a two-year contract with the Ricoh Black Rams.
In May, Southland coach Dale McLeod said Dixon had expressed interest in playing for the Stags in this year’s national provincial championships, but budgetary constraints were likely to prevent it.
At Biarritz, Dixon, a specialist blindside flanker who can play across the back row, will pack down beside Olympique’s captain Steffon Armitage, a 35-year-old former England No 8.
Saili, 30, made two test appearances for the All Blacks in 2013 while playing for the Blues.
He left for overseas in 2015, joining Irish club Munster before switching to English Premiership club Harlequins in 2017.
Saili linked up with Biarritz for their promotion season in 2020-21.
His older brother, former Auckland and Blues No 8 Peter Saili, has been playing in France since 2015.
Former Otago wing Gavin Stark was also on Biarritz’s books last season. He scored the winning try off the bench in injury time of a crucial 33-32 playoffs victory over Vannes and started in the promotion-relegation playoff with Bayonne, which Biarritz won in a penalty kicking shootout after a 6-6 draw following extra-time.
Henry Speight, a former Wallabies international who once played for Waikato, was on the opposite wing for Biarritz in the promotion decider.
Former Springboks No 8 Shaun Sowerby is Biarritz’s co-coach.
Biarritz Olympique, based in a Basque Country seaside city on the Bay of Biscay, was once one of France’s most famous clubs, winning five national titles (its last in 2006).
Its list of famous French internationals includes Serge Blanco, Thierry Dusautoir, Serge Betsen and Imanol Harinordoquy.
A number of ex-All Blacks have played for Biarritz, including Glen Osborne, Campbell Johnson and 1980s backs Frano Botica and Mike Clamp.
Clamp still lives in Biarritz, where he runs a surf shop.
Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/international/125676289/former-all-black-elliot-dixon-signs-for-french-club-biarritz-to-join-francis-saili1016