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DUBLIN, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton will leave European champions Leinster to play his club rugby in France next season, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) said in a statement on Friday.
Sexton, who won three Heineken Cups in four seasons with Leinster and has become one of Ireland's most influential players, has been linked by local media with a move to Racing Metro and was out of contract at the end of the season.
The IRFU said it had made the 27-year-old a very strong offer but that ultimately "it would not be in the best interest of Irish rugby to chase the reported financial incentives being offered".
"Naturally, I'm disappointed. The offer he has received is exceptional, even by French standards, but I know that it was still a tough decision for him," Leinster coach Joe Schmidt added in the statement.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by John Mehaffey)