Rugby rumours and transfers: Malcolm Marx, Alun Wyn Jones, Marcus Smith and much more

Jared Wright
Planet Rugby recaps some of the biggest rugby transfer news and rumours, including Malcolm Marx, Alun Wyn Jones, Cheslin Kolbe, Marcus Smith and much more.

Planet Rugby recaps some of the biggest transfer news, rumours and movements in the world of rugby union over the past week.

Budget increase, Andries Bekker, Cheslin Kolbe

SA URC sides set for budget increase: The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers are set for a 26% salary cap increase for the 2023/24 season. According to Rapport, the salary cap has been increased from R67.2 million to R85 million for next season (an increase of roughly to £3.5m), and a further R10 million increase has been agreed upon for the 2024/25 season. The report adds that each franchise will also be allowed to sign up to four marquee players whose salaries fall outside the salary cap.

Bulls and Lions battle for Bekker: Former Stormers and Springboks lock Andries Bekker is being courted by the Bulls and Lions to join their coaching staff, according to Rapport. The Lions are in the market to replace Albert van den Berg, who left for the Scarlets. Since retirement, Bekker joined the Kobe Kobelco Steelers coaching staff and returned to South Africa this year.

Kolbe to leave Toulon?: After a man-of-the-match performance against Glasgow Warriors in the Challenge Cup final, Cheslin Kolbe could depart Toulon. The Springboks star had tears streaming down his face after the match, and after months of speculation, Kolbe could confirm his departure from the club he joined at the start of the season. Rapport spoke to Kolbe’s camp, who confirmed that he is in advanced talks with a Japanese club.

Malcolm Marx, Bernard Foley, Stormers and Sharks

Marx and Foley re-sign: The Kubota Spears defeated the Panasonic Wild Knights 17-15 in the Japan Rugby League One final, claiming their first title. The good news just kept on coming for the Spears fans, with Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx and Wallabies fly-half Bernard Foley re-signing with the side until 2025.

Stormers sign Kitshoff replacement: The Stormers have reportedly completed the signing of Lions loosehead prop Sti Sithole. With Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff heading to Ulster, the Capetonians have found their replacement in Sithole.

Stormers’ targets: The defending URC champions are in talks with JD Schickerling to bring the lock back to the side following his stint in Japan. Rapport state that the side is ramping up their recruitment with a consortium looking to buy a controlling interest in the professional arm of WP Rugby. The side are also in talks with Warrick Gelant, Wille le Roux and Duane Vermeulen. However, Le Roux has the option to join Kwagga Smith at the Blue Revs next year.

Sharks signing spree: The Sharks have announced a host of new signings ahead of next season. Cheetahs back-rower George Cronje and fly-half Siya Masuku, Pumas centre Diego Appollis and prop IG Prinsloo will all join the Durban-based side ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

Marcus Smith, Gloucester, Sean Maitland

Smith visits Top 14 side: According to Midi Olympique, Harlequins and England fly-half, Marcus Smith visited Racing 92’s facilities last week. The 24-year-old is off contract in June 2024, and his visit to the Top 14 side adds to the speculation that he could make the switch to France next season.

Gloucester re-signings: The Cherry and Whites have announced a host of re-signings ahead of next season. Props Kirill Gotovtsev, Mayco Vivas, Alex Seville and Ciaran Knight, hooker Jack Singleton and versatile back Lloyd Evans have all extended their time at Kingsholm.

Maitland extends: Saracens announced this week that wing Sean Maitland has signed a new contract at the club for the 2023/24 season. The veteran speedster scored twice in the Premiership semi-final win over Northampton Saints and has made 130 appearances for the side since 2016.

Juarno Augustus, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Harry Potter, Matt Philip and Trevor Hosea

Augustus stays: Northampton Saints announced that Juarno Augustus has put pen to paper on a new contract with the club. He has made 45 appearances for the side since joining from the Stormers in 2021.

Salakaia-Loto to return: Wallabies forward Lukhan Salakaia-Loto will return to Australia, signing a deal with the Melbourne Rebels, according to Roar Sport. The Saints forward has rediscovered his form at Northampton and his signing with the Rebels makes him eligible for Test selection ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Potter heads Down Under: Roar add that Leicester Tigers back Harry Potter will also return to Australia for Super Rugby 2024. The talented back came close to earning a call-up to England under Eddie Jones last year and is set to join the Western Force.

Locks leave: The detailed report from Roar also stated that Wallabies locks Matt Philip and Trevor Hosea will head to Japan. Philip is set to join the Cannon Eagles while Hosea is heading to Suntory Sungoliath.

Reds, Western Force and Waratahs

Paisami extends with Reds: Centre Hunter Paisami has re-signed with the Reds and Australian Rugby through 2024. After debuting for the Reds in 2020, the hard-tackling centre has risen quickly to the international arena, having already played 24 games for the Wallabies.

Trio re-sign with Force: The Western Force announced the re-signing of star trio Reesjan Pasiota, Bayley Kuenzle and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa until 2025.

Nawaqanitawase stays with Waratahs: Waratahs announced that wing Mark Nawaqanitawase has re-signed with the Super Rugby Pacific outfit for the 2024 season.

Daniel Rona, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ethan Blackadder

ALB signs new deal: Chiefs and All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown has put pen to paper on a deal that will keep him with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) until the end of 2026. The 60-Test cap All Black recommits to the Chiefs in Super Rugby Pacific while being aligned with Waikato Rugby in the NPC. He made his Chiefs debut as an 18-year-old and has since become the 10th player to notch 100 games for the club.

Rona signs permanent deal: Daniel Rona has made the most of his opportunities after All Blacks Quinn Tupaea and Lienert-Brown sustained injuries before the start of the Super Rugby Pacific season. The centre was not contracted to the side before the beginning of the season, but his performances have been rewarded as he revealed to SENZ that he has signed a three-year deal with the side.

Blackadder extends: All Blacks and Crusaders flanker Ethan Blackadder has re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby until 2025. He joined the Crusaders in 2018 and has since been part of five title-winning teams. He debuted for the All Blacks against Tonga in 2021 and has played nine Tests for his country.


Bastareaud bows out: France legend Mathieu Bastareaud has announced that he is bringing his 17-year-long career to an end this season. The 34-year-old confirmed the news after lifting the Challenge Cup title for Toulon following their 43-19 victory over Glasgow Warriors in the final. He played 54 internationals for France, and Friday’s game was his 10th club final.

Pelissie retires: Top 14 stalwart Jonathan Pelissie has announced that this season will be his last. He has spent the last seven seasons at Lyon and had stints at Brive, Grenoble, Montpellier and Toulon.

Tipuric retires: Just months out from the Rugby World Cup, Wales flanker Justin Tipuric has announced his retirement from international rugby with immediate effect. He played 93 times for Wales and won four Six Nations titles, including two Grand Slams.

Wales and Lions great Jones announces his retirement: Alun Wyn Jones, the world’s most-capped rugby union player, announced his retirement ahead of the Rugby World Cup. The 37-year-old lock played 158 times for Wales and made 12 British and Irish Lions Test appearances.

Apisai Naqalevu, Enzo Herve

Naqalevu leaves Clermont: Fiji centre Apisai Naqalevu has reportedly signed a two-year deal with Perpignan ahead of next season, where he will link up with former coach Franck Azema. According to L’Indépendant, prop Arthur Joly has also re-signed with Perpignan, as too has Eddie Sawailau.

Herve to join Toulon: Following Brive’s relegation to the Pro D2, Enzo Herve will join Toulon ahead of next season, according to Rugby Rama. The pivot is set to come in for Ihaia West, who will rejoin La Rochelle.


Two Dragons re-sign: Dragons confirmed that homegrown duo Luke Yendle and George Young have both signed new contracts at the club. “It’s crucial we develop and retain our very best homegrown talent, so it is great news that Luke and George have agreed new terms,” head coach Dai Flanagan said.

Hanrahan leaves Dragons: Fly-half JJ Hanrahan has left the Dragons after 15 appearances this season, scoring 90 points, and will join Connacht ahead of pre-season next month.


Benetton sign South African lock: Italian URC side Benetton have signed lock Gideon Koegelenberg on a two-year deal until June 30, 2025. The 28-year-old returns to Italy after a stint with Zebre, having recently enjoyed a stint in Japan with the Kurita Water Gush.

Eight players leave Benetton: The Italian side announced that eight players have left the team. Manfredi Albanese, Manuel Arroyo, Mattia Bellini, Matteo Drudi, Corniel Els, Braam Steyn, Cherif Traore and Carl Wegner have all left the Italian team.

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