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Umaga leaves Toulon a hero

Sportal.co.nz     09 Jan 2007    

The team which was in ninth position on the French Pro D2 table when he arrived was in third place after Sunday's game.

In the eight matches Umaga played for the side, it was unbeaten. The club now has a chance to regain a place in the top echelon of French competition.

Umaga earned $US455,000 during his stint, but as far as club officials were concerned it was money well spent.

Coach Gilbert Doucet was reported by Planet Rugby as saying: "I have rarely met someone so humble.

"With all of his honours in the game, he could have had an oversized ego."

Umaga told journalists after his last game, "I'm very happy. It's been a great time in my life to come here and play rugby and enjoy the French culture and the Toulon people.

"They've been very good to me.

"I'm sad to go home but New Zealand is home for me. But this is like my second or third home now," he said.

The people of Toulon showed their regard for Umaga by swelling attendances at the club ground, especially after he scored tries in his first two games for the side.