It’s been another busy week with rugby rumours and transfers, and Planet Rugby brings you seven top stories ahead of the weekend.
Iain Henderson re-signs
The IRFU announced on Friday that Ireland lock Iain Henderson has signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him at Ulster until the end of the 2024/25 season.
The 31-year-old has played 139 times for Ulster to date and was part of the 2023 Ireland Six Nations Grand Slam-winning squad, adding to titles in 2014, 2015 and 2018 with the national side.
Antoine Dupont to play sevens in 2024
Toulouse boss Ugo Mola has confirmed reports that Antoine Dupont wants to turn out for France at the Olympics next year.
Mola said that the club and officials are ironing out the details, which could lead to Dupont missing Toulouse’s entire 2023/24 season.
“The Federation seems open [to the idea], the League and our president too,” Mola told Midi Olympique.
“All the lights are green, but there are other details to settle which are not neutral since. A large part of the players’ salaries are provided by the clubs. On our side, we are about to live a half-season or a full season to do without him.”
Springboks lock targeted by Top 14 club
Having survived the promotion/relegation play-off to retain their Top 14 status, Perpignan are looking to make a splash on the transfer market to improve on their 13th-placed finish this season.
The side are looking to rebuild their squad under incoming head coach Franck Azema and have identified Springboks and Stormers lock Marvin Orie as a key target.
According to Midi Olympique, the club has already sent an offer to the 30-year-old, who is currently preparing for the Rugby Championship with the Springboks.
🗣️ "According to a SA Rugby press statement, World Rugby confirmed on Thursday that Kleyn fulfilled the necessary ‘birthright transfer’ requirements."
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) June 23, 2023
Orie would be Perpignan’s 10th signing of the season after announcing the arrivals of Pietro Ceccarelli, Patrick Sobela, So’otala Fa’aso’o, Jaco van Tonder, Apisai Naqalevu, Jean-Pascal Barraque, Tavite Veredamu, Tommaso Allan and Nemo Roelofse.
Meanwhile, SA Rugby confirmed that World Rugby has cleared former Ireland international lock Jean Kleyn to play for the Springboks.
Staying in South Africa, it is reported that the Welsh Rugby Union have greenlit Cardiff’s move to sign fly-half Tinus de Beer from Currie Cup outfit the Pumas.
Premiership clubs swoop for London Irish stars
The rumour mill has been spinning since London Irish’s suspension from the Premiership.
The likes of Henry Arundell (Racing 92), Adam Coleman (Bordeaux) and Ben White (Toulon) have been linked with moves to France, while Paddy Jackson has been unveiled as Lyon’s latest signing.
However, several stars will remain in the Premiership after securing deals in the league.
Tom Pearson, Tarek Haffar, and Chunya Munga were confirmed as Northampton’s latest additions to their squad last week. Benhard Janse van Rensburg also secured a move to Bristol Bears.
This week, Harlequins swooped to sign prop Lovejoy Chawatana, centre Will Joseph and back-rower Chandler Cunningham-South. London rivals Saracens also snapped up Wallabies prop Ollie Hoskins.
Finally, Newcastle moved to replace departed fly-half Tian Schoeman, with Rory Jennings signing a two-year deal with the side.
Outside of the London Irish players, Bath announced that former head coach Andy Robinson is returning to the club to head up their academy and that Stevie Scott will be the side’s new scrum coach.
Collins leaves Ospreys
Michael Collins has confirmed that he has left the Ospreys after two seasons at the club.
The Welsh-qualified back said on social media: “Absolutely loved my time at the Ospreys, looking forward to the new challenge ahead.”
Collins joined the Ospreys from the Highlanders in 2021 and played 39 times for the club. He is the latest player to leave the side, following Alun Wyn Jones, Rhys Webb, Joe Hawkins, Tom Francis, Dan Lydiate, Stephen Myler, Scott Baldwin, Bradley Davies, Ethan Roots and Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler.
Hooker Baldwin also confirmed this week that he was hanging up his boots to take up a coaching role with Newcastle Falcons.
Super Rugby Pacific moves
There was some good news for Melbourne Rebels fans this week, despite the departures of Trevor Hosea and Tamati Ioane (more on that later), as the club announced the arrival of Filipo Daugunu from the Reds.
The Wallabies flyer has signed a two-year deal with the side, who have already signed Jordan Uelese, Pone Fa’amausili, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Darby Lancaster, and Taniela Tupou ahead of the 2024 season. It could get even better for Rebels fans with Roar Sports reporting that former Northampton and Hurricanes back Matt Proctor will join the side after being released by the Saints.
Meanwhile, the Blues announced a host of departures this week, with Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Taine Plumtree, James Tucker, Caleb Tangitau, Alex Hodgman and Nepo Laulala leaving the Auckland-based side.
Reports in France state that All Blacks tighthead Laulala will be joining Top 14 champions Toulouse, where he will replace the retiring Charlie Faumuina.
The Blues will be boosted by the arrival of promising 22-year-old lock Edward Annandale joining from French side Clermont. At the same time, they have also announced that All Blacks wing Mark Telea, their MVP for 2023, has signed a new two-year deal with the side.
The Highlanders will be without lock Josh Dickson who has signed with Toyota Verblitz, where he will join All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith.
Japan Rugby League One signings
The influx of European and southern hemisphere talents to Japan continues with Kubota Spears and Suntory Sungoliath announcing new players and Kobe Steelers adding a coach.
After announcing the signing of Springboks flyer Cheslin Kolbe, Suntory have confirmed five new arrivals. The side is beefing up their pack with the signings of Bristol back-rower Sam Jeffries and Melbourne Rebels and Wallabies utility forward Trevor Hosea. Fellow Rebel Tamati Ioane has also joined the club, while Suntory have signed Sione Lavemai from the Brave Lupus. Finally, centre Joe Kamana will arrive from Toyota Industries Corporation Shuttles.
As for champions Kubota Spears, they have announced the signing of British and Irish Lions and Wales full-back Liam Williams.
Lastly, former Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair has been announced as part of the Kobe Steelers coaching staff next season. He joins as former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie’s assistant.