Hernandez signs for Racing-Metro in Top 14

Argentinian playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez is the headline signing for Racing-Metro in the Top 14 club’s recruitment drive for next season.

The Parisian outfit on Wednesday announced that Hernandez, who can play outside-half or full-back, would be joining them from South African Super 14 side the Sharks on a two-year contract with an option on another year.

His signing will be particularly galling for Racing’s Paris rivals Stade Francais, where the 32-time capped Hernandez spent five seasons.

Other arrivals at Racing, which will increase its budget by one million euros to 17 million for the 2010-11 season, include Perpignan scrum-half Nicolas Durand and highly-rated Bayonne winger Benjamin Fall.

The club also signed three props in Julien Brugnaut (Munster), Benjamin Sa (Montauban) and Scott Zimmermann (Brive), Montauban lock Karim Ghezal and flanker Antoine Battut, as well as wingers Albert VuliVuli (Bourgoin) and Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais).

But Racing president Jacky Lorenzetti said that French Rugby Federation quotas had prevented him from recruiting as he has wanted.

The quotas demand that 40 percent of players must have been registered by the federation for five seasons before the age of 21 or have spent three years in a club’s accredited rugby school between the ages of 16-21.

For that reason, Racing have had to annul the contracts of Sefulu Gaugau, Brent Ward, Ashley Clarke and Manni Vakaloa.

Scrum-half Nic Berry (Wasps), hooker Olivier Diomande, props Craig Smith, Mehdi Merabet and Clement Baiocco (Bayonne), and centre Epi Taione are all also leaving the club.

Former All Black outside-half Andrew Mehrtens “will not play anymore” but is expected to stay on at the club in an ambassadorial role, according to Lorenzetti.

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