Aviva Premiership
Bath complete Donald signing
ESPNscrum Staff
August 12, 2011
Waikato fly-half Stephen Donald takes on the North Harbour defence, Waikato v North Harbour, Air New Zealand Cup, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, October 1, 2009
Donald move to the Premiership appears to be back on track © Getty Images

Bath have completed the signing of former All Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald on a three-year contract after successfully appealing against the Rugby Football Union's decision to block the deal.

The Aviva Premiership side had hoped to complete the signing of the 27-year-old playmaker last month before the RFU ruled he did not meet the criteria governing the recruitment of talent from overseas. The deal reportedly faltered on the fact that Donald has not started a Test for New Zealand in the last 15 months but he has now secured clearance for his high-profile switch from the Chiefs in New Zealand.

"The panel accepted that Stephen Donald is an internationally established player of the highest calibre who can play an important role in the development of the game at the top level in this country," said an RFU spokesman.

The statement from the RFU added, "Stephen Donald has been granted Governing Body Endorsement to play rugby in England following a Rugby Football Union appeal hearing.

"The panel of Jeremy Summers (chairman), RFU Rugby Operations Director Rob Andrew and Premiership Rugby Head of Academies and Development Corin Palmer upheld Bath Rugby's appeal against the initial decision made last month. Donald, who has won 22 caps for New Zealand, can now apply to the UK Border Agency for a visa."

However, the green light for Donald's move comes with certain conditions. "In upholding the appeal and to ensure that the player contributes significantly to the development of the game at the top level in the country, the panel set out four requirements for the player to fulfil," continued the statement.

The conditions are:
+ That he should mentor key Bath Rugby academy players
+ That he should assist in the development of the club's elite England players
+ That he should play a leading role in growing Bath Rugby's relationship with the Rugby Players' Association's Player Development Programme
+ That he should assist Bath Rugby in developing its brand within the local community

Bath's director of rugby Sir Ian McGeechan hailed the signing and backed the Kiwi to make a big impression at The Rec. "We are very much looking forward to Stephen joining us here at Bath. He is a very effective, skilful player, with a lot of experience which will prove highly beneficial to the younger members of our squad and Academy.

"Players he has played alongside all speak very highly of his ability and in particular his character, and we expect him to fit in very well here at Bath, having a hugely positive influence on the squad on and off the pitch."

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