Racing 92: How the Top 14 club could line up under Stuart Lancaster, including Springbok captain Siya Kolisi

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will join Racing 92 after the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and despite the departure of Finn Russell, the Top 14 outfit can still field an imposing side under Stuart Lancaster. Credit: Alamy
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will join Racing 92 after the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and despite the departure of Finn Russell, the Top 14 outfit can still field an imposing side under Stuart Lancaster. Credit: Alamy

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will join Racing 92 after the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and despite the departure of Finn Russell, the Top 14 outfit can still field an imposing side under Stuart Lancaster.

From World Cup-winning Springboks to Grand Slam-winning French internationals, freak athletes and rising stars, Racing 92 will be a real threat in Europe next season.

The club have moved early to lock in some talented players almost halfway through this season. A few more signings could be confirmed before Lancaster takes over next season, but most of their business looks to be concluded.

We look at how Racing 92 could line up once Kolisi and Lancaster join them.

15. Warrick Gelant

Another Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok, Gelant took his talents to Paris after guiding the Stormers to Unite Rugby Championship glory in 2021/22. He has started to make his mark at Racing, and while he has mostly played at full-back for the side, he does give them versatility on the wing and possibly in the midfield.

Gelant has competition for the starting role in the form of another young star, Max Spring, who made his Test debut for France last July.

14. Regan Grace

At the start of the 2022/23 season, Racing secured the signing of rugby league superstar Grace. The Welshman is yet to make his debut for the side after sustaining an ACL injury in what proved his final game for St Helens.

His injury paved the way for Christian Wade to join the club, and although he did sign a short-term deal, an extension is not entirely off the cards.

Donovan Taofifenua has been in and out of the France Test squad and is another supremely talented player.

13. Josua Tuisova

The Fijian powerhouse Tuisova joins from Lyon ahead of the new season and could feature at inside centre, outside centre, wing and even at number eight.

His form has been wayward for Lyon this season, but at his best, he is almost unplayable. Lancaster will have big plans for the Fijian.

With Olivier Klemenczak rumoured to be leaving the side, youngster Junior Tabuavou is another centre option.

12. Gael Fickou

The French international needs little introduction and has been a shining light for the club since arriving from Toulouse.

Racing have a few options in the midfield, and most of them can play both positions, notably club stalwart Henry Chavancy.

Former All Black centre Francis Saili may also get a contract extension after joining the side following Virimi Vakatawa’s retirement.

11. Vinaya Habosi

Another bit of business that Racing have locked in ahead of next season. The Fijian flyer was brilliant for the Drua in their first Super Rugby Pacific campaign and has since made his Test debut.

Asaeli Tuivuaka is another option out wide, as is the ageless Juan Imhoff if he continues his playing career.

10. Antoine Gibert 

With Russell leaving to join Bath, Racing’s fly-half stocks look somewhat thin, but the continued standout performances from Gibert provide hope for the club.

Gibert is a classic general that can also play scrum-half and could form a long-term combination with Nolann Le Garrec.

Racing have reportedly signed Perpignan fly-half Tristan Tedder with Fijian Ben Volavola linked with a move to Harlequins.

Earlier this season, Beauden Barrett and Matthieu Jalibert were linked with moves to the Top 14 side, but both rumours have lost traction and look unlikely.

This might be a position that Lancaster would want an additional player brought in.

9. Nolann Le Garrec

Nolann Le Garrec of Racing 92 during the rugby TOP 14 match between Stade Français Paris (SFP) and Racing 92 (R92) at the Jean Bouin Stadium, in Paris, France on September 4, 2021 Credit: Alamy
Nolann Le Garrec of Racing 92 during the rugby TOP 14 match between Stade Français Paris (SFP) and Racing 92 (R92) at the Jean Bouin Stadium, in Paris, France on September 4, 2021 Credit: Alamy

An incredibly talented player, Le Garrec has a bright future ahead of him and is the kind of player Lancaster can build his team around.

The 20-year-old has already caught the eye of Fabien Galthie, and with Teddy Iribaren rumoured to be off to La Rochelle, Le Garrec is likely to control the starting jersey.

Racing have reportedly signed James Hall from rivals Stade Francais; the South African will provide healthy competition for Le Garrec and is a classy half-back in his own right.

8. Maxime Baudonne

The return of Jordan Joseph from a loan stint at Pau gives Racing four solid options at the back of the pack next season.

Joseph is showing signs of realising his full potential but faces stiff competition from Baudonne, Kitione Kamikamica and Anthime Hemery.

20-year-old Baudonne has quickly become a regular in the squad and has his mitts on the starting jumper right now.

7. Cameron Woki

An incredible athlete, Racing jumped at the opportunity to secure Woki’s services just before the season kicked off. His well-rounded skillset makes him an option in the second and back-row.

His back-row combination with Kolisi will be a lethal one. If he does settle down in the second-row, Racing does have Fabien Sanconnie, Baptiste Chouenoux and Ibrahim Diallo as handy replacements on the flank.

6. Siya Kolisi

The Springboks captain joins the Parisian side as a replacement for club legend Wenceslas Lauret, who is believed to be calling time his career this year.

Lauret may stay on until the end of the World Cup until Kolisi arrives, but when he does depart, Racing have found an excellent replacement for a club stalwart. Kolisi has continually improved his game and is a world-class operator.

5. Will Rowlands

The impressive Welsh international has announced that he will leave the Dragons at the end of the season and looks set to be Paris-bound.

Another big signing for the side, who could bid Bernard Le Roux farewell at the end of the season due to retirement.

4. Boris Palu

Racing could still be plotting a few more signings, particularly in the second-row ahead of the new season, but Palu will be right in the mix for a starting role. He has signed a contract extension with the side until 2025.

Anton Bresler could get a contract extension, too, while Woki is another option in the locks when he isn’t lining up on the flank; the same is true for Sanconnie.

As mentioned, the second-row is a position that Racing could still invest in. They do have options in Aston Vaiotu and Veikoso Poloniati.

3. Trevor Nyakane

The third member of South Africa’s 2019 World Cup-winning squad, Nyakane joined the Parisian club from the Bulls in 2022. The Springbok prop is renowned for his ability to play on both sides of the scrum but has been used predominantly on the tighthead side for Racing.

Highly rated Pro D2 prop Thomas Laclayat is set to join the Top 14 club from Oyonnax and contest for the position. Meanwhile, former Wasps prop Biyi Alo could remain on the club’s payroll if his contract is extended. Other options include Cedate Gomes Sa and Gia Kharaishvili.

2. Camille Chat

While Chat has fallen out of favour with the French selectors, he is still a popular figure at the club. A powerful ball carrier who is equally effective with the ball in hand and a solid set-piece operator.

Outside of Chat, Racing have promising talents Jonathan Maiau, Janick Tarrit and Peniami Narisia at their disposal.

1. Guram Gogichashvili

Like many French clubs, Racing has recruited Georgian props to shore up their set-piece, and Gogichashvili has done that for the side. He has become a regular starter this season and will likely continue in the role.

Two French internationals back him up in Eddy Ben Arous and Hassane Kolingar.

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