Dan Lydiate: Wales flanker to return to Welsh rugby

Dan Lydiate in Wales training
Dan Lydiate played in all three Test matches during the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2013.

Dan Lydiate is to return to Welsh rugby after his 17-month spell in France.

Racing Metro confirmed the flanker, 26, has reached an agreement to move back to Wales following the autumn internationals.

Lydiate played for Newport-Gwent Dragons between 2006 and 2013 but the statement does not say which of the four Welsh regions he will join.

"I would like to thank Racing Metro 92 for their welcome and the 17 months I spent at the club," Lydiate said.

Reports in France had linked Lydiate and Racing Metro team-mates Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips with a possible return to Wales on dual contracts between the Welsh Rugby Union and regions.

Phillips and Roberts distanced themselves from the reports, but Lydiate remained silent until this announcement and the WRU will not comment on individuals.

The creation of dual contracts was part of a £60m settlement between the WRU and the four regions over funding and governance of the professional game in Wales.

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Lydiate's moments of magic

That deal says players returning to Wales on dual contracts have to be offered first to their region of origin.

If the player and his region of origin cannot come to an agreement, he would then then effectively be up for tender between the other three regions.

A Welsh Rugby Union spokesman said: "We are in discussions with a number of players about dual contracts but, as is our policy, we will not discuss individuals."

BBC Wales Sport has contacted the four Welsh regions and so far had a response from Cardiff Blues where a spokesman said: "We are not in communication with him [Lydiate] or his representatives."

Meanwhile, in Racing Metro 92's statement, Lydiate added: "I would also like to thank the club officials for their understanding, especially the way they agreed to release me from my contract."

Racing Metro 92 chairman Jacky Lorenzetti said: "We wish Dan an excellent end to the season with his new club."

Other players who might be offered WRU-regions contracts
Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones
Dragons number eight Taulupe Faletau
Blues prop Gethin Jenkins
Scarlets hooker Ken Owens
Blues utility back Gareth Anscombe
Blues wing Alex Cuthbert
Scarlets centre Scott Williams
Scarlets back-three player Liam Williams
Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar

Lydiate is currently in camp with the Wales squad as they prepare for matches against Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa in November.

The 2013 British and Irish Lion, who has 37 Wales caps, has failed to command a first-team place in Paris.

Dual contracts would see the WRU paying 60% of a player's wages with the rest made up by the region.

The Wales team management would have a say in the number of games they would play on regional duty.

At the moment, Wales captain Sam Warburton is the only player on a dual contract with Cardiff Blues.

However, Wales coach Warren Gatland wants as many as 12 players on dual contracts, and indicated he would like the deals done soon as he prepares for the 2015 World Cup.

There is understood to be disagreement about how much of the £3.3m fund set aside to pay for dual contracts should be used to bring exiled players back to Wales.

Newly-appointed WRU chairman Gareth Davies says he would prefer the money to be used to retain players currently playing in Wales.

"I've always felt - and this is with my rugby hat on now; this is not region or WRU - I'd rather spend that money on keeping players in Wales," he said.

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