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Exodus: 9 players leaving South Africa after the Rugby World Cup

By Ian Cameron
Carlu Sadie undoes strapping on his legs during the Barbarians training session at Latymer School on May 24, 2023 in London, England. The Barbarians will play against a World XV at Twickenham on Sunday May 28. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Barbarians)

Rugby union’s once-every-four-year migration from south to north will take place once again when the dust settles on the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France – and before it in some cases.


While it must be said that there has been some welcome traffic in the other direction too, here we look at nine players that set to leave to South African franchises for Europe ahead of the 2023/24 season.

Siya Kolisi – Racing 92
Easily the biggest exit, Siya Kolisi will be taking his talents to France’s Racing 92. Currently injured, Kolisi’s move to one of France’s most prestigious clubs was effectively an offer the World Cup-winning captain couldn’t refuse. Locked in a race against

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Thaakir Abrahams – Lyon
Thaakir Abrahams, a promising young talent, will be making his way to France’s Lyon. The Sharks flyer who has been likened to Cheslin Kolbe will be joining fellow new recruit, Semi Radradra, who has also signed with the Rhone club for the next season.


Carlü Sadie – Bordeaux
Giant Sharks’ prop Carlü Sadie is set to join Bordeaux. It’s the 26-year-old’s second stint in France after spending time with Stade Francais previously. The move to Bordeaux will allow the 138kg prop to further hone his skills and whilst making a name for himself in European rugby.

Thomas du Toit – Bath
Bok tighthead Thomas du Toit has set his sights on England’s Bath were he will link up with head coach Johann van Graan. Known for his size and strength, du Toit has quite been able to establish himself in a Springbok shirt yet, but time is on the 28-year-old’s side.

Henco Venter – Glasgow Warriors
Sharks back-row forward Henco Venter is set to don the colors of Scotland’s Glasgow Warriors. Venter’s relentless work rate and physicality have earned him plaudits in South Africa.


Steven Kitshoff – Ulster
Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff will be joining Irish province Ulster Rugby after the Rugby World Cup. The Stormers’ prop, known for his scrummaging and powerful ball-carrying ability, will bolster Ulster’s front-row resources.

Steven Kitshoff
Stormer’s prop Steven Kitshoff (C) looks at Munster’s prop Stephen Archer (R) during the United Rugby Championship final match between the Stormers and Munster at the Cape Town stadium in Cape Town on May 27, 2023. (Photo by Rodger Bosch / AFP)

Ernst van Rhyn – Sale Sharks
Ernst van Rhyn, a versatile forward, is set to join England’s Sale Sharks. Van Rhyn’s ability to play across the back row and lock positions makes him a valuable addition to any team. His move to Sale Sharks will provide him with the opportunity to test himself against some of the best in the English Premiership.

Thembelani Bholi – Valence Romans
Veteran lock Thembelani Bholi is set to embark on a new journey with France’s Valence Romans in the ProD2.


Marvin Orie – Perpignan
Although not yet confirmed, French Top 14 strugglers Perpignan are reported to be pursuing South African second-row player Marvin Orie to fill an apparrent vacancy at lock.



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Mark 383 days ago

I remember in the past if a South African player decided to move away from the South African franchises they weren’t eligible for selection to play for the Boks. Is this still happening?

Sean 384 days ago

The total destruction of the SA economy makes leaving the country a no-brainer and the rugby players that can will continue to jump at the chance to escape a failed state..
Money talks at an exchange rate of R19 to 1$ US...😎

Michael Röbbins (academic and writer extraordinair 384 days ago

Hardly an « exodus »
Two stars and the rest complementary pieces. England, Wales, Ireland, etc. each have more players of note leaving their respective nations either as of now or in the near future.

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