French connection for Barkley
Bath have confirmed the departure of their England international back Olly Barkley to French club Racing Metro 92.
Fly-half Barkley, 30, will be available for Bath's next two Aviva Premiership games against London Irish this weekend and Sale on September 29.
Barkley, who has made more than 200 appearances for Bath, will move to Racing as a so-called "medical joker" after the Paris club saw two fly-halves suffer long-term injuries and are without their regular number 10 Juan Martin Hernandez due to Rugby Championship commitments with Argentina.
Barkley, who has won 23 England caps, told Bath's official website his move to Paris was "the opportunity of a lifetime".
Barkley said: "Bath Rugby is in my heart and it always will be.
"When I no longer play the game, this will be the club I come to watch.
"I will be forever a Bath boy, but this, for me, was simply the opportunity of a lifetime and one I just couldn't ignore.
"I will miss the club always, and I wish all of my mates here the very best. I believe they are a special group with special coaches, and I hope they achieve everything they desire.
"I would like to thank the club for their understanding, and also the Bath supporters, who have been amazing to me in my time here."
Bath head coach Gary Gold added: "Barks is a great bloke and a top player. "I could not have been more impressed with both his attitude and his incredibly professional approach since I arrived at the club.
"As a senior player, he could not have worked harder or been more welcoming to us as a group of coaches, but every now and then an offer lands on the table that a bloke just can't refuse.
"We are sorry to see him go, but he goes with our blessing. He will always be welcome here."
Bath, meanwhile, have confirmed the signing of former Northampton hooker Brett Sharman on a short-term loan as injury cover for Rob Webber.
Northampton terminated South African Sharman's contract last month - a day after it emerged he was being investigated by Saints over an offensive tweet about double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah.
Northampton, though, said Sharman's contract had been ended on medical grounds due to a knee injury that has sidelined him since January.
Barkley, who has won 23 caps but does not feature in the current England Elite or Saxons squads, started the Aviva Premiership season impressively for Bath.
They have won two of their first three games, with fly-half Barkley's goalkicking an integral part of victories over Worcester and Wasps.
But he will initially answer an injury SOS for Racing less than a month from launching a Heineken Cup campaign that sees them in the same group as Saracens, Munster and Edinburgh.
Hernandez is currently on Rugby Championship duty with Argentina, while two other number 10s - Jonathan Wisniewski and Benjamin Dambielle - could be sidelined until after Christmas.
Barkley is in his second spell with Bath after rejoining them from Gloucester in 2009.
His latest stint at the Recreation Ground saw him suffer a broken leg on two separate occasions, but now fully fit, he has appeared to be a key part of a squad under the coaching direction of South African Gold.
Barkley's farewell is set to be at the Recreation Ground against Sale, after which Bath will have New Zealand World Cup winner Stephen Donald, young English prospect Tom Heathcote and former Leicester player Sam Vesty among their fly-half options.
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