While broadly speaking clubs across Europe have tightened their belts over the course of a locked-down 2020, the Top 14 have managed to get out their checkbooks out to land a boat full of big fish, fresh to the league.
Here’s a composite XV of big-name signings, who are new to the French top flight:
15 Telusa Veainu – Stade Francais
The Tongan joins from Leicester Tigers after failing to come to new terms with the English club over a proposed 25 per cent cut in his salary.
14 Kotaro Matsushima – Clermont
The Japanese flyer signs from Suntory Sungoliath following a massive Rugby World Cup campaign last autumn.
13 Izaia Perese – Bayonne
Signs from the Broncos NRL side after an unsuccessful code-hope from the Queensland Reds. The Wallaby is on a redemption mission in the fifteen man code.
12 Kurtley Beale – Racing 92
Maybe the biggest Top 14 signing of the pandemic? A decorated Wallaby, Beale is back in Europe for the first time in three years after a one-season stint at Wasps that ended in 2017.
11 Ben Lam – Bordeaux Begles
It’s a surprise it’s taken this long for Lam to be snapped up by a European side. The 6’4, 105kg wing ousted Julian Savea at the Canes and is a ready-made repalcement for Semi Radradra, who left for Bristol Bears.
10 Alex Lozowski – Montpellier
The utility back that can play pretty much any position outside nine was one of Saracens’ most high profile departures, but fighting for England recognition ultimately gave way to the riches on offer in France.
9 Cobus Reinach – Montpellier
A cult favourite at Franklin Gardens, the Springbok is maybe the most exciting prospect at scrumhalf to enter the Top 14 this year.
8 Tyler Ardron – Castres
The Canadian forward proved a hit at the Chiefs, and while he is frequently found in the second row as opposed to the back row these days, the one-time Osprey is likely to make a success of his latest adventure in global rugby.
7 Marcos Kremer – Stade Francais
The 6’5, 115kg Jag can cover both the second and the back row, although he seems to have found a home at blindside in recent years. At just 22 years of age is already being feted as a potential Argentinian centurion, having already amassed 24 caps.
6 Guido Petti – Bordeaux Begles
Petti joins from the Jaguares. Despite being just 25-years-old, the super athletic Pumas lock has been capped 49 times for Argentina, and can also play in the troisième ligne.
5 Will Skelton – La Rochelle
The outsized Wallaby joins La Rochelle after shedding weight and re-discovering himself at Saracens. La Rochelle are known to love big forwards, so an increase in body mass could be on the cards for Will.
4 Izack Rodda – Lyon
Another giant Wallaby lock, Rodda left the Reds after refusing to take a cut-price contract at the Brad Thorn coached Super Rugby side.
3 Pietro Ceccarelli – Brive
Signing from Edinburgh, Italian tighthead Ceccarelli has fifteen caps to his name and has sought out more regular first-team action in France.
2 Joseph Dweba
The powerfully built hooker joins Bordeaux from the PRO14’s Cheetahs. An impressive ball carrier who told RugbyPass earlier this year that he wants to dominate the Top 14.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 13, 2020
1 Titi Lamositele – Montpellier
One of the many to depart Saracens, US Eagle Lamositele can play both sides of the scrum and at 25-years-old, is only just coming into his propping prime.
Semi Kunitani – Castres via Harlequins, Ryno Pieterse – Castres via Bulls, Dillyn Leyds – La Rochelle via Stormers
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