Lydiate latest to join ranks of Welsh exiles in Top 14
The exodus continues, as yet another Wales international, this time Dan Lydiate, has announced that he is to leave for France.
Newport Gwent Dragons revealed that outstanding flanker Lydiate, who is recovering from an ankle operation, is to take up a contract with "an undisclosed European team".
Racing Metro are favourites to sign Lydiate, with Toulouse, Toulon and Clermont Auvergne also chasing him.
"We are very disappointed that Danny has decided to leave," Dragons rugby director Robert Beale said. "I can assure our supporters that we did all that we could to retain Dan's services, but we simply cannot compete with the offers which have been put on the table."
In France, Lydiate, the 2012 Six Nations player of the tournament, will join fellow Wales players Mike Phillips (Bayonne), Gethin Jenkins (Toulon), Luke Charteris and James Hook (Perpignan), with Jamie Roberts also set to leave Cardiff Blues for Racing Metro.
There is a feeling that the horse has bolted as the Welsh Rugby Union attempts to shut the stable door by announcing the creation of a new body, the Professional Regional Game Board, to improve the health of regional rugby and halt the haemorrhaging of players, as a response to a recent independent review by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"The PwC report confirmed in uncompromising detail that we have to act very differently," said WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis. "It did not make easy reading."
Of the four regions, only the Ospreys have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup (the Dragons are in the Challenge Cup).
Wales lost all four autumn internationals, slipping to tier-three status. (© Daily Telegraph, London)