Ten biggest transfers of 2015

Date published: June 25 2015

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There have been plenty of headline-grabbing player movements this year, but some will have a far greater impact than others.

We take a look at the ten most significant transfers of 2015 (so far).

Duane Vermeulen to Toulon is significant because the Springbok number eight is arguably the best player in the world right now and his departure is a massive blow to the Stormers, South Africa's top Super Rugby side. It's also an important move in terms of the European rugby landscape as Toulon continue to make their all-conquering squad even stronger as he joins the likes of Ma'a Nonu in heading to Stade Felix Mayol.

Dan Carter to Racing 92 is significant because the All Black legend's salary in France will set a new benchmark at a reported 1.6 million Euro per year. DC's last stint in France didn't go well with a ruptured Achilles tendon meaning he played just five games for Perpignan. His age – 33 – and recent record of breakdowns make a repeat more likely than the Parisians would like to admit. But having missed out on Jonny Wilkinson, club owner Jacky Lorenzetti made sure he got his man this time.

Hosea Gear to Clermont is significant because it probably means Waisake Naholo, who had originally signed with les Jaunards, is NOT going to France. Never before has the NZRU gone to such lengths to keep a player in New Zealand but it seems they've been able to broker a deal that keeps the hottest wing in rugby at the moment available to the All Blacks. It's a dangerous precedent to set.

Jonathan Sexton to Leinster is significant because Ireland's best player is heading home, bucking the trend of the exodus in the other direction. Leinster sorely missed Sexton as they slumped to their worst Pro12 finish since 2004 in his asbence. The Dubliners are hoping a return of their prodigal son will help bring silverware back to the RDS.

Nicolas Sánchez to Argentina's Super Rugby team is significant because it represents a rare example of a modern player putting the love for representing his country ahead of the prospect of personal wealth. Sánchez is set to be Argentina's fly-half in the foreseeable future and his decision to leave Toulon in favour of move back home is in stark contrast to a certain English flanker's choice.

Samu Manoa to Toulon is significant because by signing the USA international from Northampton Saints, Toulon have taken the best forward in the Aviva Premiership and added him to their ever-impressive stockpile. Manoa was nominated for the Premiership Player of the Season award in 2014 and was on the shortlist for Forward of the Year in 2015, but that doesn’t truly illustrate what an athletic wrecking ball he has been in England and Europe. Northampton are undoubtedly weaker without him, as is the Premiership.

Charles Piutau to Ulster is significant because it represents New Zealand rugby's biggest fear, a young, current All Black giving up on his Test career for European money. Only 23 years old, Piutau was a very good bet for a starting spot on the wing opposite Julian Savea for the foreseeable future, but instead will head to Belfast (albeit in 2016). Carl Hayman is probably the closest comparison, but even he was 28 when he went to Newcastle.

Bismarck du Plessis to Montpellier is significant because he's arguably the most sought-after player on the market in a position where there are very few big names on the move. Not only that, but Bismarck is joining the Jake White revolution in Montpellier, despite suggestions that player and coach do not get on, hence the protracted transfer saga. He's one of the better pick-ups among the South African horde heading to the Mediterranean coast.

Jamie Roberts to Harlequins is significant because the Wales and Lions battering ram has landed his perfect contract in a move mostly motived by off-field considerations. After two highly-paid seasons in France with Racing, Roberts has returned to the UK. Having been accepted to do a Masters degree at Cambridge University he gets to continue his education part-time. It’s a big win-win since Harlequins need him badly after a rough season and have landed a marquee player.

Willie le Roux to the Sharks is significant because his departure means the Cheetahs lose their best player. There's nothing new about Springboks leaving Bloemfontein, but Le Roux is a special talent and his exit comes at a time when the Free Staters had no real stars left to lose. The silver lining for South Africa is that he has at least stayed in the Republic.

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