Former Munster star Paddy Butler signs for top Japanese side
Taking a rarely tread path for Irish players.
From Cashel to Shizuoka, via Pau, Paddy Butler is on the move.
The former Munster back row has today confirmed that he will be playing for Yamaha Jubilo in Japan's Top League for the next two seasons.
The Shannon clubman made his Munster debut, at the age of 20, back in December 2010. He went on to play 64 times over five seasons for his home province before making the move to Pau, along with teammate Sean Dougall, in 2015.
Butler was just shy of 100 appearances for Pau, in France's Top 14, but is departing the Simon Mannix-coached side. Taking to his Instagram page, Butler commented:
'Very honoured and proud to say I will be playing my rugby with Yamaha Rugby for the next two seasons in the Japanese Top League.
It’s something that is extremely exciting and new and as the first Irish player to play in the league it’s a massive privilege and something I can always hold.'
View this post on Instagram
Very honored and proud to say I will be playing my rugby with @yamaha_rugby for the next two seasons in the Japanese Top League. It’s something that is extremely exciting and new and as the first (2nd 🤦🏻♂️) Irish player to play in the league it is a massive privilege. merci beaucoup à la @sectionpaloisebearnpyrenees pour les 4 dernières saisons. J'ai été très déçu de partir mais j'ai passé un temps incroyable à Pau. Je me suis fait des amis que je n'oublierai jamais. Merci aux supporters et meilleurs vœux pour cette saison et l'avenir. #honhasection
Yamaha Jubilo finished third in the Top League last season. Among their playing squad are South African back row Kwagga Smith and Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru.
Paddy Butler has Ireland U20 caps and lined out for Emerging Ireland in 2014 but never won a Test cap. His Munster exit in 2015 came as a surprise to the province as he played 16 times for the province in the 2014/15 season and started the Guinness PRO12 final loss to Glasgow Warriors.
Former Leinster player Mark Egan lined out for the Kobe Steelers in the 1990s but the Ireland-Japan rugby thoroughfare has not had much traffic over the years.
Former Ulster and Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris was close to joining Coca Cola Red Sparks in 2013 but an ankle injury put paid to that lucrative switch.
The likes of Kieran Read, Matt Giteau, Dan Carter, Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane are just some of the high profile foreign names that are currently plying their club rugby trade in Japan. So are South African World Cup winners Damien De Allende and RG Snyman but they are both expected to finish up with their respective clubs and join Munster ahead of the 2020/21 season.
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