James Cronin set to join Biarritz in the Top 14 after leaving Munster

FORMER MUNSTER LOOSEHEAD prop James Cronin is set to sign for recently-promoted Top 14 club Biarritz ahead of next season.

The 30-year-old Ireland international left his native province at the end of their 2020/21 season after they opted not to offer him a new deal, and The42 understands he is now in line for a move to France.

Biarritz already have ex-Munster men Dave O’Callaghan and James Hart on their books, while former Ireland U20 international Billy Scannell is part of the club’s academy. Cronin’s ex-Munster team-mate Francis Saili is a key man there too.

Connacht had hoped to bring Cronin to Galway next season and while they did offer him a deal, it’s understood they didn’t have the financial wiggle room to match his previous contract at Munster.

Cronin was always likely to have interest from elsewhere given his excellent form over the past season and with Biarritz having been promoted from the Pro D2, they swept in to make him a strong offer.

The Cork man is now set to continue his career in the French top flight, having played for Munster 142 times since his debut in 2013.  

Biarritz lost the recent Pro D2 final to Perpignan but then beat Bayonne in the ‘access match’ to gain promotion, with back row Steffon Armitage kicking the winner in a penalty shoot-out following a 6-6 draw after extra time.

The former giants will now look to re-establish themselves in the Top 14 next season, with Cronin – who won three Ireland caps from 2014 to 2016 – set to be a key man.

Another former Munster man, Darren Sweetnam, is set for a move to the Pro D2 ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The three-times capped Ireland wing is set to join Oyonnax after his recent short-term spell as a ‘medical joker’ with Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle, for whom he played six times and score two tries.

Sweetnam left Munster in April, having had a few frustrating seasons of injury and non-selection. The 28-year-old is now set to kick-start his career again in the French second division.

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