Planet Rugby recaps some of the biggest transfer news, rumours and movements in the world of rugby union over the past week.
It’s been another busy week on the transfer scene with news of re-signings in Australia, rumours linking several players to France, and some movement in the coaching ranks. Here is our full rundown.
Nigel Owens, Jack Willis, Joe Marler
Boks look to add Owens to coaching ranks: The Springboks are reportedly hoping to add former Test referee Nigel Owens to their coaching ranks ahead of the Rugby World Cup. According to a report by City Press, the Boks’ management wants an expert referee analyst for the tournament and have put Owens forward to SA Rugby’s executive committee.
Willis to stay in France: The Rugby Paper reports that none of the Premiership clubs have tabled a suitable offer to tempt Jack Willis back to England. Bordeaux are keen to sign Jack following brother Tom Willis’ successful stint at the Top 14 side. Tom has signed for Saracens ahead of next season. Toulouse, however, are confident that they will keep Jack on their books next season and deny Bordeaux.
Marler signs new deal: Joe Marler has signed a new contract with Harlequins. The experienced prop has played over 250 times. During his time with the side, he has won the Premiership twice (in 2012 and 2021) and the Challenge Cup in 2011.
Dan McKellar, Fiji, Paul Gustard
New Tigers’ boss: Former Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar has been confirmed as Leicester Tigers’ new head coach and will join the club on July 1 this year. He has signed a long-term contract with the Premiership champions. During his five-year tenure as the Brumbies coach, he guided the club to glory in the inaugural Super Rugby AU competition in 2020 and were runners-up in 2021 and semi-finalists in 2019 and 2022.
Fiji head coach: The Flying Fijians have announced the appointment of Simon Raiwalui as head coach ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Raiwalui fills the void left by Vern Cotter, who resigned from the position.
Gustard stays in Paris: Former England assistant coach Paul Gustard has committed to Stade Francais until the end of the 2025/26 season. The club are riding high in the Top 14 and have notably improved its defence since he arrived at the start of the season. At the beginning of the year, he was reportedly in the running to join Warren Gatland’s coaching staff but now remains in France.
Jono Gibbes, David Ribbans, Frédéric Michalak
Toulon chase Gibbes: Following his departure from Clermont, Jono Gibbes has caught Toulon’s interest, who are eager to bring him on as forward’s coach under Pierre Mignoni and Franck Azéma, L’Équipe report. Gibbes worked in the same role with Azéma between 2014 and 2017 before heading to La Rochelle and returning to Clermont as director of rugby.
Ribbans signs for RCT: Northampton Saints and England lock David Ribbans has signed a three-year deal with Toulon ahead of next season.
𝐃𝐀𝐕𝐈𝐃 𝐑𝐈𝐁𝐁𝐀𝐍𝐒 𝐄𝐍 𝐑𝐎𝐔𝐆𝐄 𝐄𝐓 𝐍𝐎𝐈𝐑 🔴⚫
🏴 The international lock joins the @RCTofficiel until 2026 💥
— RCT – RC Toulon (@RCTofficiel) February 22, 2023
Michalak heads to Racing 92: Incoming Racing 92 coach Stuart Lancaster has recruited former France international Frédéric Michalak. He joins the coaching staff on a three-year deal, joining from Toulon. Since his retirement, Michalak has held roles with Lyon and Toulon, as well as coaching stints in rugby league with the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla Sharks.
Sam Bedlow, Newcastle Falcons, Bristol Bears
Sam off to Sale: Bristol Bears centre Sam Bedlow will return to Sale Sharks next season. The 27-year-old centre has signed a long-term contract with the Sharks and returns to the side he played 10 times for in his first spell.
Falcons sign Cardall: Former Wasps lock Tim Cardall will join Newcastle Falcons ahead of the 2023/24 season. He is currently playing in Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels after Wasps entered administration. He has signed a two-year deal with the Falcons.
Six re-signings: Bristol Bears announced this week that six homegrown talents have agreed new contracts at the Premiership club. The Bears did not disclose the length of the players’ deals, but Will Capon, Joe Jenkins, Deago Bailey, Andrew Turner, Aaron Tull and James Dun have all re-signed with the side.
Akker van der Merwe, Jaque Fourie, Ruan Ackermann
Warthog returning to Joburg? Akker van der Merwe is reportedly in talks to return to Johannesburg with the Lions. The hooker, affectionately known as the ‘Raging Warthog’, played for the Lions between 2014 and 2017 before heading to the Sharks in Durban and signing with Sale Sharks in 2019. According to the Rapport newspaper, him and Cheetahs loose forward Jeandre Rudolph and Saracens scrum-half Ruben de Haas are targets for the Lions ahead of next season.
Fourie off to Japan: According to IOL, former Springboks centre and now Lions defence coach Jaque Fourie is drawing interest from Japan over a coaching role in the Japan Rugby League One competition.
Ackermann re-signs: Gloucester announced this week that Ruan Ackermann has extended his contract at the club. The 27-year-old has amassed over 120 appearances in Cherry and White since joining from the Lions in Johannesburg in 2017.
Rotimi Segun, Ehren Painter, Babalwa Latsha
Seguns stays: Saracens winger Rotimi Segun has signed a new contract that will keep him at the club for another three years. The 26-year-old speedster has played over 60 times for the club since his debut in 2018.
Painter to Exeter: Harry Williams is set to sign in France next season, joining Montpellier, and Exeter Chiefs have identified Northampton Saints prop Ehren Painter as his replacement, as per The Rugby Paper.
Quins sign Bok: Harlequins women have signed South African prop Babalwa Latsha from Western Province. The 28-year-old has represented South Africa 20 times and impressed during last year’s Rugby World Cup. She was the first South African women’s player to sign a professional contract in 2020.
— Harlequins Women 🃏 (@HarlequinsWomen) February 23, 2023
Connacht, Iain Henderson, Leo Cullen
Henderson to Toulouse: Ulster and Ireland lock Iain Henderson could be off to France to join Toulouse after the World Cup. The Top 14 outfit could lose Rynhardt Elstadt at the end of the season while lock Emmanuel Meafou qualifies for France after the World Cup. Toulouse see Henderson as a player who can stabilise the second-row, which hasn’t quite recovered from Rory Arnold’s departure.
Connacht re-signings: The Irish province announced a trio of re-signings this week. Prop Denis Buckley penned a new three-year deal; he has played over 220 games for the side and was part of the 2016 PRO12-winning team. 29-year-old lock Gavin Thornbury has also renewed his contract, staying on for the 2023/24 season. Finally, Jordan Duggan has signed a one-year deal and will aim to add to his 36 appearances.
Leo Cullen re-signs: Head coach Leo Cullen has agreed a new two-year contract extension with Leinster. He will remain in the role until at least until 2025. During his time at the helm, Leinster have won four PRO14/URC titles and a Champions Cup.
Ross Moriarty, Gela Aprasidze, Konstantine Mikautadze
Bayonne bag Georgian ace: Georgia international scrum-half Gela Aprasidze will join Bayonne ahead of next season, according to L’Équipe. The 25-year-old’s contract with Montpellier expires at the end of the season, and he would join the likes of Arthur Ithuria, Rémi Bourdeau, Federico Mori and Reece Hodge at the club.
Moriarty closing in on Dragons exit: Wales international Ross Moriarty is closing in on a departure from the Dragons, with several clubs interested in his services. According to WalesOnline, Bayonne are front runners to land his signature, but there is interest from England, France and Japan. Exeter Chiefs are also reportedly keen on bringing him in, as are Bordeaux.
Konstantin Mikautadze: Bayonne have also revealed that Georgian international lock Mikautadze has extended his contract with the club, while reports add that Yann David has left the side.
Josh Adams, Welsh budgets, Joe Hawkins
Lyon continue to chase Adams: Top 14 outfit Lyon are not giving up in their pursuit of Wales and Cardiff winger Josh Adams. According to The Rugby Paper, Cardiff and Lyon bosses are discussing compensation, as Adams has two years left on his contract.
Welsh budgets: WalesOnline reports that 12 Cardiff players earning up to £250,000 a year have been told the most they can be offered next season is £30,000. The squeeze on the budgets after the new deal was agreed upon last week could see several players depart at the end of the season. The publication mentions Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau as two players who could depart. The pair are attracting interest from France and Japan, with clubs willing to pay transfer fees to pave the way for an early release.
Exeter deny Hawkins links: Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has rubbished reports that Joe Hawkins could join the Premiership club. “I don’t know where the rumour has come from and I don’t know where it’s started, but right here and now, there’s no truth in it,” Baxter told BBC Sport.
Edinburgh: Mike Blair, Angus Williams, Javan Sebastian, Lee Blackett
Mike Blair: The Edinburgh head coach announced that he would not renew his contract. He is in just his second season in charge of the side but explained that he does not wish to continue to be a head coach.
— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) February 24, 2023
Angus Williams: Tighthead prop Angus Williams signed a contract extension with Edinburgh after signing his first professional deal last season.
Javan Sebastian: Scarlets prop Javan Sebastian will make the move to Edinburgh ahead of next season, the club has confirmed. The Scottish international has played over 60 games for the Scarlets.
Murray McCallum: The Edinburgh prop will join Newcastle Falcons this summer upon the conclusion of his short-term deal in the Scottish capital.
Lee Blackett: Following the news that Blair will depart Edinburgh, Lee Blackett has been lined up by the Scottish club, according to The Rugby Paper. Blackett was in charge of Wasps before the club entered administration. Edinburgh may face competition for his services as Bristol Bears may turn to him if things don’t turn around with Pat Lam.
Matt Gibbon, Brett Hodgson, Miles Amatosero
Wallabies prop re-signs: Wallabies and Melbourne Rebels prop Matt Gibbon has put pen to paper, re-signing through until the end of 2025. He made his Test debut in the Wallabies’ win over Argentina in Mendoza last year.
Eddie Jones’ new defence coach: Former NRL star and England assistant coach Brett Hodgson has been appointed as the Wallabies defence coach on a two-year deal until the end of 2024. Hodgson joins Rugby Australia following a highly decorated career as both a professional player and coach. He played over 350 first-grade games in NRL and English Super League, as well as representing New South Wales in State of Origin.
Lock returns to Australia: Clermont second rower Miles Amatosero is set to return to Australia at the end of the season, according to RugbyRama. The Waratahs are set to sign the second-row as he chases his Wallabies Test debut.
Taniela Tupou, Jeremy Thrush
Tupou to the Rebels: Taniela Tupou has signed a new deal with Rugby Australia, which includes a move to the Melbourne Rebels in 2024. The talented tighthead prop has played over 80 times for the Reds but will leave the side after the 2023 season to join the Rebels. He has committed to Rugby Australia until 2025, a massive boost for Eddie Jones, who can count on the prop for the upcoming World Cup and the 2025 Lions series.
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) April 10, 2021
Thrush to play on: Former All Black lock Jeremy Thrush could play the entire Super Rugby Pacific campaign. Western Force coach Simon Cron says Thrush’s shock retirement backflip could last the season as the side battles an early injury outbreak. Thrush retired at the end of last season but answered the Force’s SOS after an injury to Ryan McCauley. The lock came off the bench in the Force’s season open to score the match-winning try.
Tevita Ratuva, Ihaia West
Ratuva re-signs: Fijian international Tevita Ratuva has extended his contract with Brive. The 27-year-old has re-signed until 2027 with the French outfit.
West to return to La Rochelle: Fly-half Ihaia West is set to leave Toulon at the end of the season after just one year at the club. The arrival of Dan Biggar has seen West fall down the pecking order, and he is now set to return to the side he won the Champions Cup with, according to RugbyRama.