Rugby rumours and transfers: Ben White, Jean Kleyn, Jack Goodhue and much more

Jared Wright
Planet Rugby recaps some of the biggest rugby transfer news and rumours, including Ben White, Jean Kleyn, Jack Goodhue 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.

Next stop for London Irish players

New clubs: After the Premiership side entered administration, some players have already signed deals to join new clubs. Star flanker Tom Pearson has signed on with Northampton Saints, joining Chunya Munga and Tarrek Haffar at the club. Lock Adam Coleman has signed with Top 14 club Bordeaux, centre Benhard Janse van Rensburg has joined Bristol Bears, while So’otala Fa’aso’o has moved to Top 14 outfit Perpignan. 

Arundell to France?: Multiple reports have linked rising star Henry Arundell with Parisian club Racing 92. According to French publication L’Equipe, the deal has been finalised as he comes into the squad to replace outgoing Springbok Warrick Gelant, who will return to the Stormers after just one season in France.

Loader to South Africa: Surprisingly, outside back Ben Loader has been linked with a move to United Rugby Championship outfit, the Stormers. The Cape-based side have been in the market for an outside back/full-back, and after missing out on Cheslin Kolbe, Loader looks set to join the side, according to Telegraph Sport.

Jackson returns to France: Paddy Jackson looks set to join Arundell in the Top 14 next season. According to L’Equipe, Lyon have agreed terms with the former Ireland international, who was targeted as a replacement for Lima Sopoaga ahead of next season. Jackson played for Perpignan in 2018 and 2019 before joining the Exiles.

White to Toulon: Finally, Midi Olympique reports that Toulon are in advanced talks with scrum-half Ben White. The two parties have reportedly reached an agreement with the final terms of the contract needing ironing out. He is targeted to provide cover for Baptiste Serin with Benoit Paillaugue leaving the club.

Jean Kleyn, Champions Cup, Aphiwe Dyantyi

Kleyn cleared for Springboks: Former Ireland international Jean Kleyn has been cleared by World Rugby to make his debut for the Springboks, according to Afrikaans’ newspaper, the Rapport. He was named in South Africa’s training squad but needed clearance from World Rugby to feature for the side after playing five times for Ireland, who he qualified for on residency grounds in 2019.

Heineken drop sponsorship: According to a report by The Rugby Paper, beer giant Heineken has withdrawn its title sponsorship of the Champions Cup. The report states that the reason for the decision has yet to be disclosed but that it leaves the tournament organisers with a big financial gap to fill before the 2023/24 season.

Dyantyi returns with Sharks: Springboks winger Aphiwe Dyantyi was unveiled as the Sharks’ latest signing ahead of next season. The winger is set to return to rugby, having served his four-year doping suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances in August 2019.

Jack Goodhue, Caleb Timu, Pierre Fouyssac, Patrick Arlettaz

Castres target All Blacks centre: Top 14 outfit Castres have reportedly made a massive offer to sign All Blacks and Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue. The 28-year-old missed out on Ian Foster’s Rugby Championship squad and could leave New Zealand shores after the Rugby World Cup. According to Midi Olympique, the club are looking to make a “huge splash” on the transfer market ahead of next season, with Goodhue their main target. 

Clermont adds two more players: Midi Olympique reports that Clermont are close to completing the signings of back-row Caleb Timu and Toulouse centre Pierre Fouyssac. The latter is set to sign a long-term deal with the side, while Timu is to sign as a World Cup joker with Marcos Kremer and Fritz Lee likely to feature in the tournament.

New French attack coach: Fabien Galthie has found his new attack coach beyond the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with former Perpignan boss Patrick Arlettaz joining the backroom staff. Arlettaz recently stepped down as coach of Perpignan and will now replace Stade Francais-bound Laurent Labit after the World Cup.

Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny, Simon Berghan

Williams off to Japan: Liam Williams is set to leave Cardiff one season into his two-year deal with the Welsh region. According to BBC Sport, the Welsh international has signed a deal to join a Japanese Rugby League One side after the Rugby World Cup. While the report did mention an “unnamed club,” previous reports have linked him to current champions, the Kubota Spears.

Halfpenny on Dragons’ radar: Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny was one of Scarlets’ confirmed leavers at the end of the 2022/23 season, and Dragons coach Dai Flanagan has hinted at their interest in the veteran as a player and a coach. “I’ve got a really good relationship with Leigh, and he has lots more left in the tank,” Flanagan told WalesOnline. “I am sure he has more in terms of ambition than just being someone’s kicking coach.”

Berghan retires: Glasgow Warriors and Scotland prop Simon Berghan has announced his retirement. The 32-year-old front-row will begin his new career in the finance sector after playing 33 times for Scotland. 

Gonzalo Quesada, Kieran Crowley, Xavier Garbajosa

New Italy coach: Italy stunned the rugby public this past week, announcing that Kieran Crowley will vacate his role as head coach of Italy after the World Cup. Shortly afterwards, former Jaguares and Stade Francais coach Gonzalo Quesada was unveiled as the new Azzurri coach from 2024.

Crowley to Japan: Reports have emerged that Crowley could be off to Japan. He is being lined up as the new head coach of the Japan Rugby League One side, Honda Heat.

Lyon sack Garbajosa: Lyon are in the market for a new head coach ahead of next season after sacking head coach Xavier Garbajosa. The decision came after tensions with the players reached boiling point, with the club stating that his departure would “guarantee the playing squad the serenity it needs”.

Melbourne Rebels and Western Force

Melbourne Rebels’ departees: The Rebels announced their departees for the 2023 season, with vice-captain Reece Hodge headlining the leavers. He is set to join Bayonne in the Top 14. Locks Matt Philip and Trevor Hosea, flanker Richard Hardwick, prop Cameron Orr and winger Monty Ioane will also leave the side. Theo Fourie, Illikena Vudogo, Moses Sorovi, Tim Cardall and Jaiden Christian are the other confirmed departures.

Pone re-signs: Meanwhile, Wallaby prop Pone Fa’amausili signed a new deal with the Rebels until at least 2025. He will further boost the Rebels’ pack, boasting Wallabies Taniela Tupou, Sam Talakai, Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and returning Rebels captain Rob Leota. His re-signing follows the signings of Salakaia-Loto and Darby Lancaster.

Wallaby signs for Force: The Western Force announced the signing of Waratahs and Wallabies fly-half Ben Donaldson for the next two seasons. The skilful 24-year-old bolsters Force’s fly-half stocks, having played 37 Super Rugby games for the ‘Tahs and earned his Test debut for Australia against Italy last year.

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