After five years on Tyneside and with the blessing of the club, Newcastle Falcons scrum-half Sonatane Takulua has joined French giants RC Toulon.

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Tane and his family, and we could not stand in his way given how much he has contributed to the club during his time here.

“Tane has been an outstanding professional and this move will set his family up for life, so he goes with the thanks and best wishes of everyone involved in the Falcons family.

“I’m sure our supporters will join me in showing their appreciation for such a fantastic player and person, and I am confident he will go on to enjoy a successful stay with Toulon.”

The 29-year-old Tongan international made 94 appearances for the Falcons, joining from New Zealand provincial team Northland in early 2015.

Takulua has started eight of the Falcons’ 19 games this season, saying: “I’ve really enjoyed my time in Newcastle, where I’ve made lifelong friends in a great city.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone at the club – a good club – and also to the Falcons fans for all of your support during my five years there. It has meant so much to my family and I.

“The boys have gone really well this season so I’ve got absolutely no doubt they’ll finish off the job of getting back up to the Premiership, and continue to grow from there.”

Newcastle Falcons’ next game is on Saturday as they attempt to extend their winning streak to 20 games, hosting London Scottish in the quarter-finals of the Championship Cup.