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Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Fly-half Butch James to leave Bath and join the Lions

Bath fly-half Butch James
James won the World Cup with South Africa in 2007

Bath fly-half Butch James is to leave the Recreation Ground at the end of the season and join South African Super XV franchise the Lions.

The 32-year-old, a World Cup winner with the Springboks, has signed a two-year deal with the Johannesburg club.

Bath head coach Steve Meehan told BBC Bristol: "He's been a great bloke to have around the club.

"Some of the rugby he has been part of has been magnificent. I hope the younger players have learned from him."

James, who has won 40 caps for South Africa, moved to Bath from Durban-based Super Rugby side Sharks in 2007.

"I'm proud to be returning to South Africa and to be joining the Lions but at the same time sad to be leaving Bath after four successful seasons," he said.

"The Lions vision excites me and I'm also very keen to be part of the Springboks for the World Cup again.

"Being able to contribute to the sport of rugby with a franchise that has this level of commitment to transformation and growth of the game is an opportunity I want to be involved in."

The Lions became the first South African franchise to have a black owner when they were bought by Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz in October.

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