Rugby Transfers: Stuart Hogg completes retirement U-turn, Vunipola ‘in advanced talks’, Lancaster recruits son

Jared Wright
England prop Mako Vunipola and Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg with a Montpellier logo.

Our latest update on the transfer news and rumours with Mako Vunipola nearing his new club and Stuart Hogg signs.

The French transfer market is heating up ahead of the 2024/25 season as teams scramble to finalise their squads with Stuart Hogg, Dan Lancaster and Mako Vunipola targetted.

Hogg, who announced his retirement from professional rugby before the 2023 Rugby World Cup, has made a U-turn on his decision to hang up his boot, signing a deal with a Top 14 club.

Meanwhile, it looks as Racing 92 will add another Englishman to their ranks ahead of next season after signing Owen Farrell and it appears that Mako Vunipola will not be joining his brother Billy at Montpellier.

Here is our latest recap of the rumour mill.

Stuart Hogg signs with Montpellier

It’s confirmed that ex-Scotland fullback Hogg will make his return to the rugby pitch next season after signing a two-year deal, with the option of a third, with billionaire-backed Montpellier.

The British and Irish Lion back called time on his career last July, stating that “my body has not been able to do the things I wanted and needed it to do.” However, he has had a change of mind and will return to action in France after reportedly holding talks with Newcastle and Japanese clubs.

Hogg has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons of late as he was ordered to stay away from his estranged wife and now faces a trial for charges of acting in an abusive manner towards the mother of his four children.

He has been recruited by Montpellier, who have also signed ex-Saracens and England forward Billy Vunipola, ahead of next season with club owner Mohed Altrad confirming his signing on Tuesday.

He joins the club that just scraped past Grenoble in the Top 14 Access Match to decide the 14th team in France’s top division after Montpellier finished the regular season in 13th place.

Hogg has joined as a medical joker for his first season at the side following the long-term injury of Anthony Bouthier who will be sidelined for much of the start of the season while disgraced France prop Mohamed Haouas has also signed a deal to return to the club.

Exeter Chiefs and Georgian prop Nika Abuladze is another new signing ahead of upcoming season as is Los Pumas fly-half Domingo Miotti and Bordeaux flyer Madosh Tambwe.

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Stuart Lancaster signs son

Racing 92 are also doing some late business, with Rugby Pass reporting that ex-England head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to sign his son Dan from Championship outfit Ealing Trailfinders.

The 23-year-old represented England at age grade, and although he has played fly-half, it is reported that he is being recruited as a versatile option who could play in the centres.

He may well be joined by Sale Sharks legend Sam James, who announced his departure from the Premiership club at the end of the season.

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Mako Vunipola in ‘advanced talks’

It was widely reported that prop Mako would join younger brother Billy at Montpellier next season; however a report from Midi Olympique suggests that won’t be the case.

The respected French publication states that recently promoted Top 14 club RC Vannes are in ‘advanced talks’ to sign the Saracens’ loosehead prop ahead of their first-ever season in France’s top flight.

The club recently signed Fabrice Metz (Pau) and are believed to be in talks with Fijian powerhouse Filipo Nakosi.

Vunipola enjoyed a trophy-ladened spell at Saracens winning three Champions Cups, four Premierships and the Championship playing well over 200 times for the side.

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Les Bleus lock officially retires

Former France lock Bernard Le Roux has officially announced his retirement from professional rugby after more than a year and a half on the sidelines.

The South African-born Racing 92 star was a regular fixture in Fabien Galthie’s French team before his injury and played a total of 47 internationals for his adopted country between 2022 and 2023.

It has been an open secret that the second rower would bring his career to a close but has now made the decision poublic having already joined Yannick Nyanaga’s coaching team in Racing 92’s academy.

“Truly grateful for the past 15 years. Rugby gave me more than I could have ever imagined,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

“A special thanks to my family for all their support throughout the years, for everything they have sacrificed for me to be able to live my dream. Couldn’t thank you enough.

“To the coaches, staff & medical teams I had the privilege of working with. Thank you for your countless contributions towards my career.”

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