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Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Xavier Rush to quit Cardiff Blues but Ben Blair stays

Xavier Rush and Ben Blair have been mainstays of the Blues side
Xavier Rush and Ben Blair have been mainstays of the Blues side

Xavier Rush will leave Cardiff Blues to join Magners League rivals Ulster next season, but fellow New Zealander Ben Blair has extended his stay in Wales.

Full-back Blair, 30, who joined the Blues in June 2006 from Canterbury, has signed up until 2012.

Inspirational back-row Rush signed from Auckland Blues in 2005, captaining the Welsh region for two seasons from 2006 before handing the reins to Paul Tito.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time living in Wales," Rush, 32, said.

"Representing and captaining the Cardiff Blues has been a real honour.

"Over the years I have developed many friendships that will last a lifetime.

"However, my original intention having moved from New Zealand back in 2005 was always to experience life in Europe.

"After five years in the capital city of Wales, which has been a real privilege, I feel the time is right for a change before I consider the future following my playing career."


Blues chief executive Bob Norster was delighted that the goal-kicking Blair has agreed to stay at the Cardiff City Stadium, but was sorry to see Rush depart.

"We are naturally delighted to announce the news of Ben's contract extension, but understandably disappointed to inform of Xavier's decision to move on," Norster said.

"We have undertaken everything in our powers to retain Xavier's services, however Xavier has decided to make a life change and we respect his desire to do so.

"Xavier has made a tremendous contribution and been at the core of the evolution of the region over the last five years and we wish him well in the next chapter of his life and career."

With the imminent arrival of Scotland fly-half Dan Parks from Glasgow for next season, the Blues would have to have cut their foreign contingent by one down to the permitted six.

Rush's departure at least balances the books in that department, although there is no doubt that Blues director of rugby Dai Young would rather have retained Rush's services.

Rush won eight All Black caps and captained Auckland Blues to the Super 12 title in 2003.

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see also
Rush to leave Cardiff for Ulster
08 Feb 10 |  Ulster
Young admits Kiwi duo may leave
22 Jan 10 |  Cardiff Blues
Blues star Rush future undecided
13 Jan 10 |  Cardiff Blues
Blues pair sign three-year deals
16 Jan 08 |  Cardiff Blues
Blues sign Kiwi full-back Blair
07 Jun 06 |  Welsh
Rush released early to join Blues
07 Sep 05 |  Welsh
Cardiff Blues sign All Black Rush
21 May 05 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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