4:20pm Sunday 29th June 2014
LUKE Charteris turned down an offer to return to Newport Gwent Dragons in favour of staying in France.
The 31-year-old lock has signed a deal at the start of the month to link up with international teammates Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips at Racing Metro following Perpignan's relegation from the Top 14.
Charteris, who made 142 appearances for the Dragons between 2003 and 2012, said he would have loved to return home in World Cup year.
But there was no offer of a central contract from the Welsh Rugby Union – who have so far only signed flanker Sam Warburton – and Charteris opted to move to Paris because of the uncertainty caused by the lack of progress on a fresh participation agreement between the governing body and the four regions.
"It was not the ideal time to come out of contract with the way things are going in Wales," he told the Rugby Paper. "I would have looked to come back for a central contract but it was not an option.
"The only offer in Wales I had was from the Dragons as it was the end of the season and the regions had done all their recruitment. But Racing are a good squad, there are a few familiar faces and that will help me settle in."
Charteris, who started alongside Alun Wyn Jones in both Tests against South Africa this summer, also received offers from English clubs but feared that the Aviva Premiership's stance on releasing players outside of IRB Test windows would harm his international prospects.
"There were options to go to England but it was not something I really looked into because I wanted to play for Wales and it is quite hard to do that playing in the Premiership," he said.
"I do not have full release with Racing because of the time of year I was negotiating my deal, but it's more flexible than it would be in England.
"The coaches there have told me provided they do not have injuries they are happy for me to go with Wales."
Three of Warren Gatland's second row options will be plying their trade outside of Wales next season – Charteris, Ian Evans with Bristol in the Championship and Bradley Davies with London Wasps in the Aviva Premiership.
The Dragons have signed South African Ligtoring Landman and former Wales international Ian Gough to bolster their second row, joining captain Andrew Coombs and the promising trio of Cory Hill, Matthew Screech and Joe Davies.
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