Rugby rumours and transfers: Willie le Roux, Sam Whitelock, John Mitchell and much more

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rugby transfers and rumours rugby rumours including Willie Le Roux, Sam Whitelock, John Mitchell, Siya Kolisi Credit: Alamy
rugby transfers and rumours rugby rumours including Willie Le Roux, Sam Whitelock, John Mitchell, Siya Kolisi Credit: Alamy

Planet Rugby recaps some of the biggest transfer news, rumours and movements in the world of rugby union over the past week.

Courtney Lawes, Manu Tuilagi, Tolu Latu and London Irish

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Lawes stays at Saints: Lawes has signed a new contract with Premiership club Northampton Saints after turning down offers from abroad. He has made 263 appearances for the club since his debut in 2007.

Tuilagi extends Sale stay: In another major boost for England and the Premiership, Tuilagi rejected overseas interest to sign a new one-year contract with Sale Sharks. The England star earned his 51st Test cap during the recent Six Nations and made a Test appearance for the Lions in 2013.

Sale to sign Lotu: Wallabies and Waratahs hooker Latu could be heading North once again, signing with Sale Sharks, The Rugby Paper reports. The troubled hooker returned to Australia after Stade Francais terminated his contract after a run of red cards and off-field alcohol-related issues.

Exiles fail to pay salaries: London Irish are at risk of following Worcester Warriors and Wasps into administration, according to The Times. The Premiership side failed to pay their April salaries despite promises that payments would be late but still paid.

Sharks and Cardiff Rugby

Sharks re-signings: The Durban-based Sharks have announced a host of re-signings ahead of next season. Loose forward Phepsi Buthelezi and fly-half Curwin Bosch have committed until 2026, while Ntuthuko Mchunu and Marnus Potgieter have signed deals until 2025. Flanker James Venter has also committed to the side. Springboks number eight Sikhumbuzo Notshe has re-signed for next season.

Cardiff exodus: Following the end of the regular season, Cardiff have confirmed their departures; they are: Brad Thyer, Rey Lee-Lo, James Ratti, Kirby Myhill, Harri Millard, Joe Peard, Dmitri Arhip, Willis Halaholo, and Rhys Priestland.

Jamie Joseph and Scott Robertson

Joseph stays in Japan: Brave Blossoms head coach Joseph has reportedly found his next job after the World Cup. After being snubbed for the All Blacks’ top role, Newshub reports that Joseph will be the Shizuoka Blue Revs’ new coach.

Robertson’s coaching team: Incoming All Blacks boss Robertson has confirmed a ‘talented’ coaching team. Jason Ryan, Leon MacDonald, Jason Holland, and Scott Hansen will assist Robertson when he becomes All Blacks head coach after the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The announcement means that the Hurricanes, Crusaders and Blues will need new coaches next year.

Leicester Fainga’anuku and Damian McKenzie

Fainga’anuku to France?: All Blacks winger Fainga’anuku could leave New Zealand after the Rugby World Cup. The 23-year-old’s contract with the Crusaders ends this season, and he has caught the eye of teams in France. Lyon were keen to bring him on board. However, RugbyRama report that Bordeaux-Bègles, Clermont and Toulon have all taken an interest in the Crusaders star. The report states that Toulon is in ‘advanced talks’ with Fainga’anuku and that the club is his preferred destination.

McKenzie signs new deal: McKenzie will stay around at the Chiefs until at least 2025 after agreeing on a two-year contract with New Zealand Rugby (NZR). With Richie Mo’unga heading overseas after the Rugby World Cup and Beauden Barrett’s future uncertain, having agreed to play in Japan next year, this is a significant re-signing for NZR.

Sam Whitelock and Jackson Garden-Bachop

All Blacks lock to bid New Zealand farewell: All Blacks and Crusaders second-row Whitelock is set to leave New Zealand and sign for Top 14 outfit Pau after the Rugby World Cup, reports in France suggest. Local media state that the deal is nearly finalised and will join his brother Luke at the club.

Garden-Bachop signs for Brive: Garden-Bachop, son of former All Blacks star Stephen Bachop, has signed with Top 14 side Brive. The 28-year-old has been plying his trade in Japan with the Kintetsu Liners and previously played for the Hurricanes. The club also announced the contract extension of lock Retief Marais until 2026.

John Mitchell, Greg McWilliams

Next Red Roses boss: Rugby Pass reports that former England men’s assistant coach Mitchell will take over from Simon Middleton as the England women’s coach. The former All Blacks head coach is currently working as Japan’s defence coach.

McWilliams to step down: Staying with the Women’s Six Nations, Ireland coach McWilliams is set to step down with immediate effect, according to a report by Indo Sport. After a Wooden Spoon finish in the 2023 Six Nations, Ireland are now set to feature as a Tier 3 side in the new international WXV competition.

Rassie Erasmus, Willie le Roux, Siya Kolisi

Springboks coach: Erasmus is set to reclaim the head coaching reins after the Rugby World Cup. According to Rapport, SA Rugby will recruit a new defence coach to replace Jacques Nienaber instead of a new head coach, with Erasmus returning to the head coaching position. A new head coach would be appointed in 2025, with the likely candidate coming from within the coaching staff.

Next stop for Le Roux?: Springboks full-back Le Roux bid Toyota Verblitz farewell after four years at the Japanese club. Le Roux wants to move to the house he built in Paarl. A coach at the Stormers spoke to Rapport and confirmed that the URC side are in talks with the full-back but added that ‘nothing has been signed yet’.

Kolisi’s Test career: Springboks captain Kolisi’s Test career could end after the Rugby World Cup. While the flanker is in a race against time to make the tournament in France but according to Rapport, his new club Racing 92, could stand in his way to represent South Africa. The Top 14 side is not keen on him continuing his Test rugby once he joins the team.

Bath departees, Dave Attwood and Lee Blackett

Eight players leave Bath: Bath confirmed the departure of eight senior players. Darren Atkins, Tom Doughty, Max Green, Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Valeriy Morozov, D’Arcy Rae, Will Spencer and Wesley White will all leave The Rec following the conclusion of the 2022/23 season.

Attwood retires: Bath lock Attwood announced that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the 2022/23 season. The 36-year-old has had a fantastic 18-year career which has seen him amass over 350 senior appearances.

Blackett joins Bath: The Premiership club have confirmed that former Wasps head coach Blackett will join Johann van Graan’s coaching staff. The 40-year-old joins Bath as the side’s new Backs and Skills coach ahead of the 2023/24.

Morgan Parra, Santiago Chocobares, Toulon, Vincent Rattez

Parra retires: Former France scrum-half Parra has officially announced his retirement. The 34-year-old confirmed to L’Equipe that he will be joining Stade Francais’ coaching team next season. A legend of French Rugby, Parra played 71 Test matches for Les Bleus and was affectionately dubbed as the petit général. He won two Top 14 titles with Clermont between 2009 and 2022 before packing his bags for Paris.

Puma pens new deal with Toulouse: According to L’Equipe, talented Los Pumas back Chocobares has signed a two-year extension with the Top 14 side. The versatile 24-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the season.

Young Toulon duo: According to Rugby Rama, Toulon have secured the services of promising hooker Pierre Damond and full-back Marius Domon until 2025.

Lyon land Rattez: Montpellier and France outside back Rattez has found a new club next season. According to L’Equipe, Lyon have signed the back on a two-year deal after Montpellier did not offer him a contract extension.

Melbourne Rebels, Harry Wilson

Trio re-sign with Rebels: The Melbourne Rebels announced three re-signings this week. Wingers Joe Pincus and Lachie Anderson have both extended their contracts until 2025. Lock Josh Canham has also penned an extension until 2025.

Wilson stays: In a major coup for the Reds and Australia, the back-rower has re-committed to the Queensland Reds and RA through to 2025. The 50-cap Reds’ star follows Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott, Tom Lynagh, Kalani Thomas, Matt Faessler, Seru Uru and Angus Blyth in securing their futures at Ballymore in recent weeks.

READ MORE: Champions Cup Team of the Week: Finalists Leinster and La Rochelle dominate the line-up

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