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Exodus to Pro D2: 3 Lions among second flight combined XV

By Ian Cameron
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 27: Jonathan Joseph of the Lions reacts during the match between the Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium on June 27, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The French second division is set to witness an signifcant influx of rugby talent in the upcoming season, as a number of prominent players have chosen to don the jerseys of Pro D2 clubs.

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This year’s migration includes a decent array of international stars and experienced campaigners, including the like of British & Irish Lions Tomas Francis, Rhys Webb and Jonathan Joseph.

Among the notable transfers is also former Leicester Tigers loosehead Nephi Leatigaga, who will join Dax from the Waratahs.

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Gifted but disgraced France tighthead Mohamed Haouas will bring his scrummaging prowess to Biarritz after leaving Montpellier, with a touted move to Clermont torn up after video footage emerged of him beating his wife.

Veteran South African lock Anton Bresler will bolster Vannes’ engine room after his tenure with Racing 92.

The Pro D2 will also welcome Will Whitty from Perpignan to Rouen, the former Exeter Chiefs’ second row apparently throwing in with the up-and-coming side from Normandy.

Sharks Thembelani Bholi to Valence Romans from the Sharks, and Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco moves to Brive from the Western Force. Sione Kalamafoni, the veteran Tongan back-row forward, joins Vannes from Scarlets, while experienced scrum-half Rhys Webb brings his talents to Biarritz from Ospreys.

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The list continues with signings such as former Wales flyhalf Sam Davies joining Grenoble from the Dragons, one-time Wasps flyer Zach Kirbirige making the move to Aix from the Western Force, and the legendary Jimmy Gopperth departing Leicester Tigers for Aix-en-Provence.

Jonathan Joseph will offer his attacking prowess to Biarritz from Bath, while Asaeli Tuivuaka strengthens Brive’s backline after his time at Racing 92.

Ten Test internationals make up our combined XV of new entrants into the ProD2.

PRO D2 NEW SIGNINGS XV:
1. Nephi Leatigaga – Dax from Waratahs
2. Motu Matu’u – Soyaux-Angouleme from Brive
3. Mohamed Haouas – Biarritz from Montpellier
4. Anton Bresler – Vannes from Racing 92
5. Will Whitty – Rouen from Perpignan
6. Thembelani Bholi – Valence Romans from Sharks
7. Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco – Brive from Western Force
8. Sione Kalamafoni – Vannes from Scarlets
9. Rhys Webb – Biarritz from Ospreys
10. Sam Davies – Grenoble from Dragons
11. Zach Kirbirige – Aix from Western Force
12. Jimmy Gopperth – Aix from Leicester Tigers
13. Jonathan Joseph – Biarritz from Bath
14. Asaeli Tuivuaka – Brive from Racing 92
15. Sione Tui – Aix from Stade Francais

REPLACEMENTS:
16. Brendan Lebrun – Biarritz from Castres
17. Vakh Abdaladze – Brive from Leinster
18. Tomas Francis – Aix from Ospreys
19. Charlie Matthews – Biarritz from Harlequins
20. Rob Harley – Colomiers from Carcasonne
21. Julian Blanc – Brive from Castres
22. Jackson Garden-Bachop – Brive from Kinetsu Liners
23. Dan Goggin – Montauban from Munster

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2 Comments
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finn 376 days ago

really sums up the shift in the balance of power that Zach Kibirige is good-but-not-great in England, a genuine star in super rugby, and a second division player in France

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