Viliame Mata to leave Edinburgh for Bristol Bears at end of season

Fijian No 8 has made 120 appearances for capital outfit since 2016

Viliame Mata will leave Edinburgh to join Bristol Bears at the end of the season. Image: Craig Watson
Viliame Mata will leave Edinburgh to join Bristol Bears at the end of the season. Image: Craig Watson

VILIAME MATA will leave Edinburgh to join Bristol Bears at the end of the current (2023-24) season. The 32-year-old Fijian international No 8, who won Olympic gold with his national 7s team in 2016, is moving on after 120 appearances for the capital side during the last seven and a half seasons.

“Viliame is one of the most powerful and exciting back-row players in the game, so we’re delighted to be bolstering our forward pack with a player of his world-class calibre next season,” said Bears director of rugby.

“While he is destructive and brings gain line on both sides of the ball, he also possesses the passing/offloading skills and experience that will add real value to our team.


The Offside Line’s End of Year Awards for 2023

That was the month that was: December 2023

Rory Darge faces anxious wait over knee injury


“His performances as a centurion for Edinburgh and at the recent Rugby World Cup in France for Fiji, showcased his experience and ability at the top level. We’re pleased to be bringing him to the Bears and the Premiership next season.”

Mata added: “I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Bristol Bears next season. I’m excited for the challenge of playing for a different team, in a different environment and a different league.”

Edinburgh ‘senior’ coach, Sean Everitt, said: “Bill hae been an incredible and standout performer since joining Edinburgh in 2016 and he will go down as one of the greatest overseas players to wear the castle on his chest.

“All at the club wish Bill and his family the very best in his move to Bristol, and he’ll still have a huge role to play in the second half of the campaign as we battle in both the BKT United Rugby Championship and European Challenge Cup.”


That was the month that was: December 2023

About David Barnes 3821 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

20 Comments

  1. A fine servant to Edinburgh and wish him well at Bristol but like others, I don’t think his departure should be a calamity. A team needs to be coached to be better than the sum of its parts, it can’t depend on individual marquee players. Yes Mata was very handy going forward but a decent coach should be able to get the likes of Ritchie, Crosbie, Muncaster, Watson, Boyle to work to a system that works for the team as a whole. It’s great having Graham and DvdM on the wings, they can be lethal but doesn’t matter if they never get the ball through a well-drilled back line. Other teams in the URC, notably the Irish provinces, usually have fewer international players than either Edinburgh or Glasgow and yet perform consistently better. If there aren’t obvious improvements by the end of the season – and there are some encouraging signs – then use the cash to improve the coaching setup, especially line out and psychology coaches.

    8
    2
  2. Sad to see him go, been a fantastic player for the club. Best wishes to him.

    At 32, I do wonder if having to prove himself in the premiership might be a big ask, think they may need to manage the amount of game time.

  3. I haven’t been watching Bradbury, so I’ll be keeping an eye out in the next couple of weeks. However, I feel Crosbie has been slightly hard done to in the past 12 – 18 months or so. Importantly, he seems to gain yards in contact against other forwards more often than not and comes across as being a bit more consistent as some of our other options.

    11
    • Whole heartedly agree Tasha and add to your point his zero missed tackles in last 6N only to be dropped.

  4. Has anyone been following the astounding job Rob Baxter has done at Exeter, you lose a huge swathe of your top players and have a raft of youngsters ready to come through – brilliant! With all the departures at Edinburgh give the guy the top job pay him what he wants and get him to sort out our youngsters path to the top.

    16
    1
    • Interesting comparison.

      Of course Exeter aren’t bankrolled by Scottish Rugby and have to cover their own losses – £1.2M for 2022.

      I would suggest that pragmatism is probably in play down South having seen three teams disappear in short order.

      Still doesn’t explain how teams like Exeter are getting it right and we aren’t.

      • I think there’s a big link at Exeter in the University rugby set up, it’s basically the academy, they seem to get it right, whereas Edinburghs link to Edinburgh Uni and the others are non existent… surely a link would benefit all 🤷‍♂️🏉

    • Hmm, that would be great, but a bit hopeful I think … He’s more likely to get the England job…

      1
      3
  5. Mata has been a real warrior for Edinburgh a club legend.
    His departure may give Crosbie the opportunity to hone his 8 skills and give Muncaster some game-time too

    19
  6. Edinburgh continue to lose some big names – how long can WP continue? How long is Boffs contract? We just lost BK. We need some really strong replacements and we desperately need to fix the junior feeder Channels, why doesn’t someone visit Ireland and Italy and NZ and find out how they continue to produce amazing talent. The blueprints are out there we need to follow them. And even when we get a system in place it will take 6-10 years for the talent to come through to International level. Finally there’s no way Bradbury is coming back..

    8
    2
  7. I’m not overly disappointed by this if it freed up the money to re-sign Graham and vdM. He was great going forward but I remember Richard Cockerell saying that he could be a bit of a luxury as he didn’t get too involved with rucks and mauls. Good luck to him, though- but what will happen to Bradbury??

    3
    1
  8. I’m not overly disappointed by this if it freed up the money to re-sign Graham and vdM. He was great going forward but I remember Richard Cockerell saying that he could be a bit of a luxury as he didn’t get too involved with rucks and mauls. Good luck to him, though- but what will happen to Bradbury??

    1
    2
  9. Looking light in ball-carrying potential for Edinburgh now next season, potentially Muncaster but he is not the largest backrower. Bradbury back? Christie/Bayliss/Du Preez?

Comments are closed.