It’s been another busy week with rugby rumours and transfers, and Planet Rugby brings you five of the top stories ahead of the weekend.
Premiership Rugby moves
Over in the Premiership, former Sale Sharks lock Matt Postlethwaite is reportedly on trial with the Exeter Chiefs, according to The Rugby Paper. The 27-year-old lock joined Exeter’s pre-season training after leaving Sale at the end of last season.
Johann van Graan has bolstered his front-row depth by signing former London Irish prop Mikey Summerfield ahead of the 2023/24 season. The 20-year-old prop joined Bath as they kicked off their pre-season training, with Van Graan dubbing the front-rower as ‘a promising young talent’ who can play on ‘both sides of the scrum.’
Meanwhile, another former London Irish prop, Danilo Fischetti, has found a new club, signing with United Rugby Championship side Zebre. It’s a welcome return to the Italian club for Fischetti, who spent four seasons at the side before joining London Irish.
All Blacks scrum-half TJ Perenara has signed a new deal with New Zealand Rugby and the Hurricanes. The veteran half-back has re-signed until the end of 2025.
After struggling with injuries this season, Perenara has not been involved with the All Blacks for this Rugby Championship campaign but may well get a shot before the Rugby World Cup.
The first Hurricane to hit 150 appearances for the club, Perenara, will be one of the few vastly experienced scrum-halves in New Zealand next year, with Aaron Smith (Toyota Verblitz) and Brad Weber (Stade Francais) leaving the Highlanders and Chiefs, respectively.
Frans Steyn retires
The veteran utility back was aiming to recover from a knee injury in time to feature in his fourth Rugby World Cup, but has instead opted to call time on his career.
The 36-year-old played 78 Test matches for South Africa, scoring 165 points (including 11 tries) and was also in the Boks’ victorious World Cup-winning squads in 2007 and 2019.
“It’s been a tough few months coming to terms with saying goodbye to the game that has been my entire life,” Steyn said on his Instagram page on Tuesday night.
“In answer to the many questions I have faced since sustaining a knee injury earlier this year, I am hereby announcing my retirement from professional rugby.”
Rugby World Cup jokers in France
Top 14 clubs are moving quickly to wrap up their signings as cover for the Rugby World Cup.
While the World Cup kicks off on September 8, the Top 14 starts in August and while it will pause for World Rugby’s showpiece event, teams are signing players to allow their international stars to recover from the tournament.
The clubs have been given special dispensation outside of their salary caps to sign players on short-term deals, which was the case in 2019.
Starting with Montpellier and the club have secured the services of Scotland prop D’Arcy Rae from Bath. He has been brought in as cover for Georgian Lasha Macharashvili. Logovi’i Mulipola, Benoit Paillaugue and Elliot Stooke have also signed with the club.
Australia’s Jake Gordon and Noah Lolesio have been added to Toulon’s ranks, making it a short distance to travel if they are called into the Wallabies squad during the World Cup. They are joined at the club by Wales and Lions legend Alun Wyn Jones as well as Fiji’s Setariki Tuicuvu and Noa Nakaitaci.
Meanwhile, Toulouse have signed lock Piula Faasaele from Perpignan with Rynhardt Elstadt, Billy Searle, George Tilsley, Setareki Bituniyata and Kakeru Okumura all already signing short-term deals with the club, who are set to be without several players during the World Cup.
Biarritz continue their spending spree
PRO D2 big spenders Biarritz continue to unveil their new signings ahead of the 2023/24 season.
The ambitious second-division French side controversially announced the signing of disgraced prop Mohamed Haouas and have continued to sign high-profile players.
2017 British and Irish Lions tourists Rhys Webb and Jonathan Joseph were unveiled along with Haouas, while former Harlequins lock Charlie Matthews has also agreed terms with the side.
South African scrum-half Pieter Jansen van Vuren has joined the side from the Johannesburg-based Lions, as has former Wasps flyer Zach Kibirige.
Toulon outside back Gervais Cordin has also made the switch along with Castres hooker Brendan LeBrun.