Planet Rugby recaps some of the biggest transfer news, rumours and movements in the world of rugby union over the past week.
Gareth Anscombe, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brandon Paenga-Amosa
Anscombe seals Japanese switch: Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe will take his talents to Japan next year after signing with Japan Rugby League One side, Suntory Sungoliath, following his release from the Ospreys.
TKB set for Wallabies switch?: Former All Blacks scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow is back in the selection frame for the Wallabies. According to a report by The Roar, the 32-year-old could play for Australia ‘A’ against Portugal the day before the Wallabies’ final Rugby World Cup warm-up match and is in contention to make the final squad.
Paenga-Amosa set for Wallabies return: In another report by The Roar, hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa will return to Australia in 2024 to join the Western Force. The Montpellier hooker will leave France after the 2023/24 season but could become eligible for Eddie Jones to select for the World Cup this year.
Manie Libbok, Jordan Hendrikse, Hendre Stassen, Owen Franks
Libbok stays: According to multiple reports in South Africa, the Stormers have retained the services of Manie Libbok, with the fly-half turning down interest from Racing 92 to re-sign with the South African side until 2027.
🙌 Massive news coming out of Cape Town!
⛈️ The Stormers have reportedly fended off the interest of Racing 92 to keep their man until 2027. https://t.co/DdopbwwEXr
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) July 23, 2023
Hendrikse to join his brother at the Sharks: Lions fly-half Jordan Hendrikse will join his brother Jaden at the Sharks next season, according to a report by Sunday newspaper, the Rapport.
Stassen heads to Stormers after ban: Former Junior Springbok Hendre Stassen has signed with the Stormers. According to a report by Netwerk24, the former Stade Francais and Bulls forward has inked a four-year deal with the Cape Town-based side, having recently returned to rugby following a four-year doping ban.
Former All Black prop joins Toulouse: The Top 14 champions have signed another All Black prop, with Owen Franks joining the side from the Hurricanes as World Cup cover. He follows Nepo Laulala in arriving at the club ahead of the 2023/24 season.
Anthony Watson, Marcus Smith, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Demba Bamba
Watson to stay at Leicester: England outside back Anthony Watson is set to re-sign with Leicester Tigers despite interest from France and Saracens. According to a report by the Telegraph, Watson has signed a groundbreaking short-term deal with the RFU that will pay him up until the end of the Rugby World Cup.
Smith ends speculation: England fly-half Marcus Smith has ended speculation over his future by signing a contract extension with Harlequins for the 2023/24 season and beyond. The playmaker was linked with a move to Racing 92 but will now remain in the Premiership.
Saracens beat Bristol to Gonzalez’s signature: Los Pumas star Juan Martin Gonzalez has finally landed a new club following the demise of London Irish. Reports this week linked with a move to Bristol Bears but Saracens swooped in to secure the star back-rower’s services ahead of the 2023/24 season. He will join the Premiership club following in the footsteps of fellow Argentinians Juan Figallo and Marcello Bosch.
Juan Martín González scoring tries in wins over 🦘 and 🥝. #RugbyChampionship
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) July 23, 2023
Bamba set for Toulon switch: According to L’Equipe, France prop Demba Bamba is close to joining Toulon ahead of the 2024 season as contract extension talks with Lyon stall. The report states that he recently rejected an offer from Lyon, and Toulon are in pole position to land his services.
Les Kiss, Sean Everitt, Kieran Crowley, Andries Bekker, Dai Young
Kiss returns to Queensland: The Queensland Reds announced Brad Thorn’s replacement, with ex-London Irish boss Les Kiss signing a two-year contract with his hometown team.
Everitt joins Edinburgh: Kiss was believed to be a target for Edinburgh, who have instead signed former Sharks head coach Sean Everitt on a one-year deal as the side’s new senior coach. He joins the Scottish outfit from the Bulls, where he worked as a consultant.
Crowley is off to Japan: Kieran Crowley will step down as Italy’s head coach after the Rugby World Cup and be replaced by former Jaguares and Stade Francais boss Gonzalo Quesada. The New Zealander has already secured his next role as he will take charge of Japan Rugby League One side, the Honda Heat.
Bulls hire ex-Bok: The Bulls announced the appointment of former Springboks and Stormers lock Andries Bekker as their new forwards and breakdown coach. He joins the Pretoria-based side following the departure of Russell Winters to Kubota Spears.
Young and Cardiff partways: Dai Young officially left Cardiff Rugby this week despite an independent investigation finding insufficient evidence to support the bullying allegations made against him. This leaves Cardiff with no director of rugby ahead of the new season, with Matt Sherratt and Richie Rees taking charge of pre-season.
Posolo Tuilagi, Billy Pollard, Toulouse, WillGriff John
Perpignan extend Tuilagi’s contract: Ambious Top 14 outfit, Perpignan, have extended the contract of highly rated young forward Posolo Tuilagi. Following a blockbuster World Rugby U20s Championship in South Africa, Tuilagi has added one year to his current contract, which will keep him on Perpignan’s books until at least the end of the 2025/26 season.
La Rochelle sign hooker cover: Brumbies hooker Billy Pollard became the latest Australian to head to France, signing as a Rugby World Cup joker with La Rochelle, who are set to be without France international Pierre Bougarit.
Toulouse sign two jokers: Top 14 champions Toulouse will be without Thomas Ramos, Melvyn Jaminet and Ange Capouzzo during the World Cup and have recruited Colomiers full-back Max Auriac as a World Cup joker and veteran hooker Piula Faasalele, with Peato Mauvaka and Julien Marchand expected to be in Fabien Galthie’s final Les Bleus squad.
WillGriff John: The former Scarlets prop will don Racing 92 colours next season after joining the Top 14 side as a World Cup joker following his release from the Welsh region.
Api Ratuniyarawa, Peceli Yato
Bayonne sign Fijian lock: Api Ratuniyarawa has ruled himself out of contention for the Rugby World Cup to take up a contract with Bayonne. The Top 14 club will be without several locks for the tournament and have recruited the former London Irish star to fill the vacancies.
Yato out of the World Cup: Peceli Yato has made himself unavailable for the World Cup. Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui confirmed the news to FBC News, stating that the coaching staff respected the decision.
✖️ Peceli Yato.
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) July 22, 2023
Super Rugby Pacific
Crusaders star joins Moana: Sione Havili has left the Crusaders to sign a two-year deal with Moana Pasifika ahead of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.
McWhannell joins the Blues: The Blues have swooped in to nab second-rower Laghlan McWhannell from the Chiefs ahead of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
Burns and Seu head to Japan: Japanese club, Toyota Industries Shuttles, have reportedly signed former England fly-half Freddie Burns from the Highlanders and Samoan international Taleni Seu from the Waratahs.
Quartet sign with Waratahs: According to The Roar, the Waratahs have signed scrum-half Jack Grant (Ealing Trailfinders), prop Hayden Thomson-Stringer (La Rochelle), flanker Ned Slack-Smith (Western Force) and winger Vuate Karawelevu (West Harbour) ahead of the 2024 season.
Pro D2 signings
Grenoble sign Tongan forward: Veteran Tongan prop Siua Halanukonuka has signed a one-year deal to join Pro D2 outfit Grenoble from Perpignan.
Reilhac joins Montauban: Former Montpellier centre Yvan Reilhac has signed a one-year deal to join Montauban from Pau. The 28-year-old centre left Montpellier last season but spent just one campaign at Pau before making another move. Meanwhile, winger Romain Fonnicola has also joined from Pau.
Fearns returns to France: 34-year-old back-rower Carl Fearns returns to France following his most recent stint with Newcastle Falcons. The former Lyon and Rouen number eight has inked a one-year deal with Carcassonne. The side has also signed Clermont fly-half Gabin Michet on loan for the season.
Young trio head to Agen: Agen have signed a trio of teenage players in winger Kelyan Giroud (Stade Francais), lock Maxime Turc (Pau) and prop Alexandre Evaert (Clermont) ahead of the new season.
Double Rouen signing: The Pro D2 side have signed back-rower Clement Ribeiro from Stade Francais and La Rochelle fly-half Hugo Aubry.
Ealing signings: Ealing Trailfinders announced the signing of former Wasps and Racing 92 prop Biyi Alo and ex-London Irish duo Matt Cornish and Tom Hitchcock. Meanwhile, scrum-half Jack Grant has reportedly signed with the Waratahs.