Bristol Bears have announced that fly-half AJ MacGinty has agreed terms to switch to the club ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
Regarded as one of the best fly-halves in the Premiership, the 31-year-old links up with Pat Lam once again, having helped Connacht to a maiden PRO12 title during the 2015/16 season.
MacGinty has made 93 appearances for Sale Sharks, racking up 801 points since arriving at the AJ Bell Stadium in 2016.
“With our ambition of being one of the top clubs in Europe, I’ve always said depth and quality in each position is vital. Our expectation is that Callum [Sheedy] will continue to develop into an established international and be away with Wales for periods of each season, so it’s important to have world-class experience in the fly half position,” said director of rugby Pat Lam.
“While we have some very good youngsters coming through, as everyone knows, this is a critical position for the team, so we are pleased to bring in somebody of AJ’s experience and calibre.
“It’s no secret having worked closely with AJ before, that I’m a huge admirer of the qualities that he brings to a team, on and off the field.
“I’ve kept an eye on his progress since helping him move to Sale from Connacht in 2016 and there’s always been an ambition to work with him again if the opportunity arose.
“His game management, defensive qualities, kicking ability and all-round understanding of the way I like our teams to play is excellent.”
Named captain of USA in June 2021, MacGinty featured for the American squad in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, scoring 25 points in the competition.
He added: “It was a difficult decision for me to leave Sale but Bristol Bears are a hugely ambitious club and their progression under Pat has been very impressive. He gave me my first opportunity in professional rugby (at Connacht) and I am excited to work with him again.
“Sale Sharks will always hold a special place in my heart. I have made some great friendships here that will outlast my rugby career. I would like to thank the owners, coaches, players, staff and fans for their support throughout my time to date. I am fully focussed on finishing the season as strongly as possible.”