They got the deal they wanted for the 29-year-old Wales fullback -scorer of 34 tries in 77 tests and who had an excellent World Cup - afterholding talks with Toulouse, who will defend their European title againstEnglish champions Wasps on May 23, last Friday. "We got what we wanted," Warriors chief executiveLeighton Samuel told BBC Radio after concluding a deal believed to be in the region of 200,000pounds (250,000 dollars) which will also include the gate receipts from afriendly with Toulouse.
"I've spoken to Gareth and to the Union and we've all agreedhe can go."
Thomas - who had two years to run on his contract - joins Walescaptain Colin Charvis in France, the latter having joined second divisonTarbes prior to last year's World Cup, and with fly-half Stephen Jones beinglinked to Montferrand.
The agreement is thought to be double the original offer byToulouse which was contested by the WRU as they are 50% stakeholders in theWarriors
"It wasn't about money," Samuel said. "I would have put together a financial package to matchToulouse's.
"David Moffett (WRU group chief executive) and myself bothagree that we did all we could to keep Gareth in Wales.
"It was a lifestyle thing. Gareth feels he has two-to-threeyears left in him and wants to experience French rugby.
"Who can blame him? He has achieved everything in Welshdomestic rugby and I imagine Toulouse is a very nice place to live.
"Funding is an issue, though. Toulouse have a wage bill inthe region of 3-4 million pounds per year and we cannot compete with that inWales."
Samuel is confident that Thomas will continue playing for Walesjust as Charvis has - and he has not ruled out the possibility of hisreturning to the Warriors.
"Playing for Wales is paramount to Gareth, that will havebeen in his contract and there are plenty more international caps and tries tocome for him," said Samuel.
"If he is not happy in Toulouse we have a clause in hiscontract that he will come straight back to the Warriors - I hope to see him aroundChristmas!"
AFP - 2004.