Leicester have lost out in the race to sign Wales fly-half Stephen Jones.
The Llanelli Scarlets star has rejected a potential career in the English Premiership and agreed a two-year contract with French club Montferrand.
Jones' decision to move to France comes less than 24 hours after his Wales team-mate Gareth Thomas finally agreed terms with reigning European champions Toulouse.
And while Llanelli made it clear they desperately wanted to keep Jones, financial incentives elsewhere proved impossible for them to match.
Jones, a key member of the Welsh revival during last year's World Cup and the recent RBS 6 Nations Championship, will leave Llanelli at the end of this season.
He does not yet know whether Montferrand will be playing European Cup rugby next term, although they could secure qualification by defeating Parker Pen Challenge Cup final opponents Harlequins on May 22.
"This club has been a very special place for me, and it will be hard to leave. I am from Carmarthen and I have always supported the Scarlets," said Jones.
"I would like to go out on a high with a Celtic League champions medal," he added, looking ahead to Llanelli's remaining two games against Neath-Swansea Ospreys and title rivals Ulster.
"But I am excited about moving to France, learning a new language and experiencing a different culture."
Jones joined Llanelli eight years ago, and has made more than 200 appearances and amassed almost 2000 points. It also gave him the springboard for a successful international career, which has currently seen him win 40 caps.
"Naturally, we are disappointed that Stephen will be leaving us but we respect his decision and wish him every success at Montferrand," said Llanelli rugby director Gareth Jenkins.
"Stephen joined us at 18 years of age, and has been a big part of what we have achieved over the last eight years.
"He is a terrific player, a dedicated professional and has many friends at Stradey Park."
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.