If you need convincing with regards to the financial clout of the ProD2, then look no further than the list of new arrivals into the competition ahead of next term.
While the RFU Championship is seemingly edging closer to semi-professional status, the ProD2 appears to be going in the opposite direction, gaining in spending power with each passing season.
Technically the ProD2 shares the same €11.3m (£10.1m) LNR imposed salary cap as their Top 14 colleagues, and while few can spend to that limit, it allows those with funds to compete with the PRO14, Gallagher Premiership and Super Rugby for player resources, and easily blow the likes of the RFU Championship and the MLR out of the water. Beziers are a case in point. The former French champions who are in the throes of being taken over by billionaire UAE investors andcand even wield financial resources that would make the most liquid of Premiership side’s blush.
Increasingly players who could still be mixing it in top-flight rugby competitions are having their heads turned by the money on offer, the French mode de vie and – for veterans – the potential draw of the country’s generous unemployment benefit system.
This year’s new arrivals include high profile signing like Wallaby Henry Speight, Fijian try machine Vereniki Goneva, former European Player of the Season Nick Abendanon and blockbusting No.8 Carl Fearns. But there are also younger stars like Munster’s Darren O’Shea, Racing’s Ben Volavola and Bristol Bears Nik Stirzaker.
PROD2 NEW ARRIVALS XV
1 Ushangi Tcheishvili – Biarritz via Montpellier
2 Jody Jenneker – Vannes via Castres
3 Siua Halanukonuka – Perpignan via Glasgow Warriors
4 Darren O’Shea – Vannes via Munster
5 Robin Copeland – SA XV via Connacht
6 Alex Tulou – Beziers via Castres
7 Luke Hamilton – Oyonnax via Bristol Bears
8 Carl Fearns – Rouen via Lyon
9 Nic Stirzaker – Montauban via Bristol Bears
10 Ben Volavola – Perpignan via Racing 92
11 Vereniki Goneva – Mont-de-marsan via Harlequins
12 Francis Saili – Biarritz via Harlequins
13 Jackson Willison – Soyaux-Angoulême via Bath
14 Henry Speight – Biarritz via Reds
15 Nick Abendanon – Vannes via Clermont
16 Francois Da Ros – Biarritz via Brive
17 Beka Kakabadze – Oyonnax via Clermont
18 James Johnston – Rouen via Brive
19 Marvin Woki – Rouen via Tarbes
20 Dan Baker – Mont-de-Marsan via Ospreys
21 Ludovic Radosavljevic – Aix-en-Provence via Castres
22 Shaun Reynolds – Nevers via Lions
23 Alexis Palisson – Colomiers via Stade Francais
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