Olly Barkley relishing return to Premiership with London Welsh

Ex-England fly-half Olly Barkley is relishing a return to the Aviva Premiership after joining London Welsh

Former England international Olly Barkley is relishing a return to the Aviva Premiership after joining London Welsh.

The 32-year-old, who can play at outside-half or inside centre, has agreed a three-year deal with the Oxford-based club after they secured promotion with a 48-28 aggregate win over favourites Bristol on Wednesday.

“I’m really looking forward to being part of what looks to be a great coaching team and a talented group of players for London Welsh’s return back to where they should be in the Aviva Premiership,” he said.

“There looks to be a spirit amongst the group that I can’t wait to be involved with and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to the challenge of the Premiership with them all, and helping the club further establish itself at the Kassam Stadium and in Oxford.”

For the much-travelled former Bath favourite, it is a return to Premiership rugby after stints in the Top 14 with Racing Metro and Grenoble before four months in the RaboDirect Pro12 as he helped the Scarlets secure a place in next season’s Rugby Champions Cup.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to the challenge of the Premiership

Olly Barkley

The Exiles, who went straight back up to the top flight of English rugby after being relegated in 2012, have targeted signing 12 to 15 players ahead of the new season with Cardiff Blues outside-half Gareth Davies already confirmed.

Barkley has scored 1,588 points in 181 Premiership appearances for Bath and Gloucester and will add much-needed top-flight experience to the club, who will play most of their home games at 14:30 on Sunday afternoons as they look to build a solid fan base in Oxfordshire, as they look to avoid a swift return to the Championship.

“Olly has a wealth of experience, both at club and international level, and he’s exactly the type of player we’re looking for,” said London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell.

“He’s got a fantastic game understanding and his other biggest strong point is his accuracy with the ball. His goal kicking is phenomenal and we’ll need that in the Aviva Premiership.”

Barkley’s European experience, having made 79 appearances in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup will also be invaluable as London Welsh take their place in Tuesday’s draw for the first iteration of the new European Rugby Challenge Cup.

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