It’s been another busy week with rugby rumors and transfers, and Planet Rugby brings you five of the biggest stories ahead of the weekend.
Rugby Premier League moves
In the Premiership, former Sale Sharks lockout Matt Postlethwaite is reportedly on trial with the Exeter Chiefs, according to the role of rugby. The 27-year-old lock joined Exeter’s pre-season training after leaving Sale at the end of last season.
Johann van Graan has bolstered his frontline depth by signing former London Irish prop Mikey Summerfield ahead of the 2023/24 season. The 20-year-old prop joined Bath as they began their pre-season training, with Van Graan describing the forward as “a promising young talent” who can play “both sides of the scrum”.
Meanwhile, another former London Irish mainstay, Danilo Fischetti, has found a new club, signing with United Rugby Championship side Zebre. It’s a welcome return to the Italian club for Fischetti, who spent four seasons in the side before joining the London Irish.
All Blacks scrum half TJ Perenara has signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby and the Hurricanes. The middle veteran has been re-signed until the end of 2025.
After struggling with injuries this season, Perenara has not been involved with the All Blacks for this Rugby Championship campaign, but he could well have a chance ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
The first Hurricane to make 150 appearances for the club, Perenara will be one of the few highly experienced scrum-halfs in New Zealand next year, with Aaron Smith (Toyota Verblitz) and Brad Weber (Stade Francais) leaving the Highlanders and Chiefs. respectively.
Frans Steyn retires
The veteran full-back was looking to recover from a knee injury in time to participate in his fourth Rugby World Cup but opted to end his career.
The 36-year-old played 78 test games for South Africa, scoring 165 points (including 11 tries) and was also on the Boks’ World Cup-winning teams in 2007 and 2019.
“It has been a difficult few months to accept saying goodbye to the game that has been my whole life,” Steyn said on his Instagram page Tuesday night.
“In response to the many questions I have faced since suffering a knee injury earlier this year, I hereby announce my retirement from professional rugby.”
Rugby World Cup pranksters in France
The top 14 clubs are moving quickly to close their signings as a cover for the Rugby World Cup.
While the World Cup kicks off on September 8, the Top 14 kicks off in August and although it will go on hiatus for World Rugby’s main event, teams are signing players to allow their international stars to recover from the tournament.
Clubs have been granted special dispensation outside of their salary caps to sign players on short-term deals, as was the case in 2019.
Starting with Montpellier and the club have secured the services of Scottish mainstay D’Arcy Rae from Bath. He has been hired as a cover for Georgian Lasha Macharashvili. Logovi’i Mulipola, Benoit Paillaugue and Elliot Stooke have also signed for the club.
Australia’s Jake Gordon and Noah Lolesio have been added to the Toulon ranks, making it a short distance to travel if they are called up to the Wallabies squad during the World Cup. They are joined at the club by Welsh and Lions legend Alun Wyn Jones, as well as Fiji’s Setariki Tuicuvu and Noa Nakaitaci.
Meanwhile, Toulouse have signed Piula Faasaele from Perpignan with Rynhardt Elstadt, Billy Searle, George Tilsley, Setareki Bituniyata and Kakeru Okumura all already signing short-term deals with the club, which will be without several players during the World Cup.
Biarritz continues its spending spree
The big spenders of PRO D2 Biarritz continue to introduce their new signings ahead of the 2023/24 season.
The ambitious French second division side controversially announced the signing of disgraced prop Mohamed Haouas and have continued to sign high-profile players.
2017 British and Irish Lions tourists Rhys Webb and Jonathan Joseph were introduced along with Haouas, while former Harlequins lock Charlie Matthews has also agreed terms with the team.
South African scrum-half Pieter Jansen van Vuren has joined the Johannesburg-based Lions squad, as has former Wasps midfielder Zach Kibirige.
Toulon full-back Gervais Cordin also made the switch along with Castres hooker Brendan LeBrun.