Ex-Springboks prop Marcel van der Merwe has become the second South African player to join a Top 14 club this week as a medical joker, the seven-cap front row agreeing to a short-term deal with La Rochelle only a day after it was confirmed that out-half Elton Jantjies would link up with Pau for the remainder of the 2020/21 season.


The 30-year-old van der Merwe earned the last of his Springboks caps in 2015 and he will now join Heineken Champions Cup semi-finalists La Rochelle for the next few months rather than play for the Bulls in the Rainbow Cup.

Van der Merwe isn’t the only South African heading to France this week as the Lions opted to release Jantjies, the 30-year-old with 37 Test caps, to Pau to aid his chances of Springboks inclusion ahead of their series versus the British and Irish Lions.

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Wales out-half and Lions selection hopeful Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

A Lions statement read: “Upon request from Elton Jantjies, and in conjunction with SA Rugby, Lions Rugby Company has released the player for an opportunity as a medical joker with French club Pau in preparation for the British and Irish Lions. LRC and SA Rugby are in communication with Elton post the opportunity granted.”

It hasn’t all been one-way traffic however as the Bulls have announced the signing of loose forward Jacques du Plessis from Montpellier on a three-year deal effective from July 1.

The 27-year-old du Plessis – known as Sheep – started his pro career at the Bulls before switching to Montpellier in 2015. “Having Jacques return to Loftus is testament to what we’re trying to establish in Pretoria… a franchise where players want to be,” enthused Jake White.


“His ability to play as a loose forward and lock gives us depth amongst the forwards. Jacques is an extremely physical and uncompromising player, and we’re looking forward to his contributions in the blue jersey.”

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