Rugby rumours and transfers: Joe Schmidt, Vincent Koch, Jack Nowell and more

Jared Wright
rugby rumours and transfers rugby rumours rugby transfers joe schmidt all blacks ian foster Jamie Joseph vincent Koch Carlu Sadie Jack Nowell

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 a rather busy week on the transfer scene. There have been several rumours about where the Wales stars will land next season plus a host of re-signings in Super Rugby Pacific. The United Rugby Championship sides have also been busy while the Top 14 recruiters are scouring the local leagues and those across Europe. There is also the not-so-small matter of the next All Blacks head coach role, with Joe Schmidt likely to throw his name into the mix. Here is our full rundown.

Tomas Francis, Jarrod Evans, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis

Tomas Francis: The tighthead prop is drawing interest from Top 14 clubs, with Stade Francais and Bordeaux interested in his services. The former Exeter Chiefs front-rower is another player who could leave Wales as the budgets for the regions tighten ahead of next season, according to SportsMail.

Jarrod Evans on Quins’ radar: Cardiff boss Dai Young confirmed that Evans would leave the side at the end of the season. “I can’t tell you where Jarrod is going, that’s his business, but I can tell you we can’t put a competitive offer on the table anywhere near the offers he’s had,” Young told the BBC. The fly-half has been heavily linked to Premiership club Harlequins. The London-based club will see Tommy Allan leave at the end of the season to Perpignan and need a back-up to Marcus Smith.

Powerhouse prop to the Premiership: Ospreys loosehead Nicky Smith has several clubs interested in his services. The 28-year-old has been in excellent form this season, with Exeter Chiefs and Bath looking to bring him across the bridge. Now, Saracens have joined the race to land his signature.

Dillon Lewis: A regular for Warren Gatland this Six Nations, Lewis is an ongoing target for Gloucester and Exeter, according to Sportsmail. The report adds that several Welsh stars are keen on moving abroad as they know getting their wages off their region’s balance sheet will enable more of their current colleagues to have future jobs.

Lyon, Max Llewellyn, Rhys Priestland, Jack Dixon

Liam Williams and Josh Adams: The Welsh outside backs are being courted by French clubs, with Lyon interested in both players. French and British media report that Williams has become a target for Lyon, while the Top 14 outfit has actively pursued Adams. Williams has also drawn interest from Japanese club Kobelco Kobe Steelers.

Max Llewellyn: Cardiff centre Llewellyn has reported signed with Gloucester and will join the side ahead of next season. Lewis could follow him.

Priestland to retire?: Several reports have suggested that fly-half Rhys Priestland could hang up his boots at the end of the season. In January, the 36-year-old told the BBC: “The way things are with what’s going on in Wales at the moment, I can’t see myself carrying on here post this year. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing one more year, maybe somewhere. There’s a lot to be sorted out in the next few months. When the time comes, I’ll figure out whether I’ll carry on post this year.”

Jack Dixon: The centre will remain at the Dragons after signing a deal with the side next season. Dixon, 28, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to injury but will return in Dragons colours next season.

Nigel Owens, Vincent Koch, Carlu Sadie, Kurt-Lee Arendse

Boks close in on Owens: Former international referee Nigel Owens has confirmed that he is in talks with Rassie Erasmus as the Springboks look to appoint him as part of their staff for the World Cup. Speaking to Rapport, Owens confirmed that he has been in conversation with Erasmus over the role. “Yes, I was approached by Rassie,” Owens said when asked about the rumours. “I had a good conversation with him. Unfortunately, that’s all I can say at the moment.”

Koch to return to SA: The Sharks are closing in on signing Vincent Koch, as per Rapport. The tighthead prop is currently on a short-term deal at Stade Francais but could move to Durban in June. The Sharks are set to lose Thomas du Toit to Bath at the end of the season, with Carlu Sadie drawing interest from Bordeaux.

Sadie to follow Bru: Sharks forward coach Yannick Bru is set to take Sharks tighthead Sadie with him to Bordeaux next season. L’Equipe followed up on Rapport’s report stating that Sadie has signed a two-year deal with the Top 14 outfit.

Arendse commits to Bulls: Springbok star Kurt-Lee Arendse has extended his stay with the Bulls agreeing on a new long-term deal with the Pretoria-based side. The 26-year-old joined the Bulls in August of 2020, and since arriving at the side he has become a vital member of the first team, earning 31 Bulls caps in all competitions and earning a call-up to the Springbok squad.

10 re-sign with Fijian Drua

Five re-sign with Drua: The Fijian Drua announced key re-signings of players beyond the current Super Rugby Pacific season. Front-rows Tevita Ikanivere, Mesulame Dolokoto, Zuriel Togiatama, Haereiti Hetet and Livai Natave have all recommitted to the side.

Five more re-sign with the Fijians: The Drua were busy securing their playing squad ahead of next season with five further forwards committing their future to the Super Rugby Pacific side. Locks Isoa Nasilasila and Leone Rotuisolia and flankers Vilive Miramira and Elia Canakaivata have re-signed ahead of next season.

Mark Bennett, Facundo Cordero, Chris Farrell

Bennett stays: Edinburgh centre and Scotland international Mark Bennett has penned a new two-year deal to remain in the Scottish capital. “I’m absolutely delighted to be staying in Edinburgh. I love it here, and there’s nowhere else I’d want to be playing my rugby right now,” Bennett said.

Cordero joins Glasgow: Glasgow Warriors have bolstered their options in the back-three, with Argentinian winger Facundo Cordero agreeing to join the URC side until the conclusion of the current campaign.

Farrell leaves Munster: The Irish province announced this week that Chris Farrell had been released from the squad to pursue a new playing opportunity. Farrell is one of five players referred to a French criminal court following allegations a young woman was raped. He is not accused of rape but is accused of “not stopping a crime”. The 15-Test Ireland international is said to be in discussions with French clubs.

Kieran Marmion, Andy Uren, Gary Graham

Marmion leaves Connacht: Ireland scrum-half Kieran Marmion will leave Connacht at the end of the season to join Premiership club Bristol Bears. During his 11 seasons at Connacht, Marmion has played over 220 games for the province and is currently third in all-time appearances for the club behind John Muldoon and Michael Swift. He won the PRO12 with the side and has played 28 times for Ireland.

Uren leaves Bristol: With Marmion joining the Bears, Uren will leave Ashton Gate signing with Italian URC side Benetton. The 27-year-old Bristolian made over 150 appearances for his boyhood club and has been granted an early release from his contract.

Tucker commits to Connacht: Scrum and contact coach Colm Tucker has signed a three-year contract extension to remain part of the Connacht coaching team. Tucker joined Connacht in 2015 and has worked with the side’s youth teams.

Manu Tuilagi, Jack Nowell, Jack Willis, Gary Graham

Tuilagi to Japan: The Rugby Paper reports that Sale Sharks and England centre Manu Tuilagi could join Billy Vunipola in signing for Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.

Nowell to La Rochelle: According to The Rugby Paper, Exeter Chiefs back Jack Nowell could be off to Top 14 club La Rochelle at the end of the season. Nowell’s contract is set to run out with the Chiefs and has been courted by several clubs. La Rochelle is the latest to be linked with the England and Lions international.

Willis to Bears?: Toulouse and Bordeaux are actively attempting to sign Jack Willis ahead of the 2023/24 season. Toulouse signed the back-rower on a short-term deal after Wasps went into administration and are eager to retain his services. If he does remain in France, he will not be available to England after the showpiece. According to The Rugby Paper, Bristol Bears have now entered the race to land his signature.

Graham France-bound: Newcastle Falcons forward Gary Graham will leave the Premiership outfit at the end of the season to join Pro D2 side Carcassone on a two-year deal.

Ian Foster, Joe Schmidt, Ethan de Groot, Shaun Stevenson

Foster to step down: All Blacks head coach Ian Foster confirmed that he would not be amongst the candidates for the head coach job after the Rugby World Cup. Foster announced this shortly after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) confirmed that the new All Blacks coach for 2024 and beyond would be appointed within four to six weeks.

Schmidt joins the race: Scott Robertson and Jamie Joseph are believed to be the frontrunners for the All Blacks head coach role. However, former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is weighing up his options. According to, Schmidt has not yet thrown his hat in the ring and that his initial reluctance to apply for the job has softened a touch – and he already has the support of senior players.

READ MORE: The next All Blacks head coach front runner, contender, outside bets and wild card

De Groot recommits to Stags: All Blacks and Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot has recommitted to the Southland Stags for the coming season. The loosehead has played for the Stags since 2018 and has appeared in 13 Tests since debuting for the All Blacks in 2021.

Stevenson keen on NRL switch: Chiefs and Maori All Blacks outside back Shaun Stevenson admitted to Stuff that an NRL move holds appeal if Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett is still keen on his services. He added that his involvement with the All Blacks this year will factor in his decision.

Ben Morgan, Alex Wootton and Mikey Haywood retire

Morgan retires: Former England number eight Ben Morgan is to retire from rugby at the end of this season. He confirmed his decision to end his professional career at the end of the season. He has played 31 times for England cap and earned over 180 Gloucester caps.

Wootton retires: Connacht winger Alex Wootton has confirmed his retirement from professional rugby at the end of the season. Wootton explained that he wishes to call time on his career on his terms, and the 28-year-old has opted to do so at the end of the season.

Haywood calls it a day: One club legend Mikey Haywood has announced his retirement from professional rugby at the end of the 2022/23 season. The hooker has made over 260 appearances for Northampton Saints, scoring 34 tries in a career spanning 13 seasons at Franklin’s Gardens.

Setariki Tuicuvu, Selevasio Tolofua, Melvyn Jaminet

Fijian stays at Brive: Tuicuvu has signed a two-year extension with Top 14 club Brive. The versatile back has played over 50 times for the side since joining from Clermont.

Tolofua to Toulon: Toulouse number eight Tolofua is on the move ahead of next season, signing for Toulon. He will effectively come in as Sergio Parisse’s replacement, while current clubmate Yannick Youyoutte could be joining him at the side, according to Midi Olympique.

Jaminet to leave Toulouse?: Les Bleus star Jaminet joined Toulouse at the start of the season on a three-year contract until 2025. However, Toulon is now keen to sign the full-back ahead of next season. L’Equipe report that Thomas Salles and Aymeric Luc could leave Toulon at the end of the season, and club president Bernard Lemaître is a fan of the Toulouse number 15 and eager to bring him in as a replacement.

Marcos Kremer, Samuel Ezeala, Fritz Lee

Kremer joins Clermont: Los Pumas forward Kremer has signed a two-year deal, with an option of a third, with Clermont. The 25-year-old will join the side after the Rugby World Cup. It’s another huge signing for the club, who have secured the services of Folau Fainga’a, Pita-Gus Sowakula and Mohamed Haouas for next season.

Clermont re-signings: More good news for Clermont with L’Equipe reporting that highly rated wing/centre Ezeala is finalising a three-year extension with the club. The report adds that Samoan number eight Lee will also sign on for another year at the club while Tomas Lavanini is in fresh talks over a new contract. Lavanini rejected initial extension offers, but Kremer’s pending arrival may change his mind.

Gela Aprasidze, Matéo Garcia, Siua Maile

Bayonne announce Aprasidze: Georgian scrum-half Aprasidze has signed a two-year deal with Bayonne; the club confirmed this week.

Young pivot stays at UBB: Garcia, 20, has signed on for another two seasons with Bordeaux. The French U20 star’s contract was coming to an end of the current season but is staying on until 2025.

Tongan hooker stays in Treviso: Maile joined the Italian club on a short-term deal but has impressed to earn an extension until 2026.

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