Lee Byrne will be playing his rugby in France after the World Cup, as he has signed for big-money side, Clermont Auvergne. The 30-year-old British and Irish Lion still had a year to run on his deal at the Liberty Stadium but will join the French Champions at the end of the season.

“I’ll be sad to leave my home region but this was too good an opportunity for me to turn down at this stage of my career and I’m excited about what the future holds for me in France, and the challenges that lie ahead for me,” said Byrne.

“I’m extremely thankful to the Directors of the Ospreys for the way that they have handled this, allowing me to look ahead to what will be a fantastic experience for me. In the longer term, the Ospreys is my region, and I’d like to think that I will be able to return here before my career is over.”

Byrne’s move comes less than a week after team-mate James Hook also confirmed his move across the channel, also with a three-year deal at Perpignan.

Ospreys elite performance director Andrew Hore added.

“Lee has served the Ospreys well in his time with us, and has developed from a back three utility player into a highly accomplished fullback capable of competing at the top level. However, it is the nature of professional sport that players move on and teams evolve, which is why have reluctantly agreed to this deal with Clermont Auvergne to release Lee from his contract at the end of this season, a year early,” he said.

“Confirming the position at this early stage allows us to plan for next season with a degree of certainty, and to identify the key areas where we need to strengthen the squad with a view to 2011/12 and beyond.”