Another busy week in the player market this week with the major announcement of Beauden Barrett's move to Japan next year.
We recap some of the biggest moves of the week as well as some of the biggest rumours on player movement.
PRO14 expansion could see the Cheetahs and Kings axed
The latest developments in the PRO14 could see the competition further expanded into South Africa with the four Super Rugby franchises entering the competition but it would at the expense of the Cheetahs and Southern Kings.
According to the Rapport newspaper, if the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers join the European competition it would be at the expensive of the current South African sides, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings.
Sotutu to re-sign with Blues and NZRU
Will he stay in New Zealand or make his way over to England? Which Premiership team could use his services? 👇Comment below pic.twitter.com/bTw4EXJ2cT— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) July 4, 2020
Exeter Chiefs’ long-serving Welsh back signs short-term deal
Long-serving Exeter Chiefs back Phil Dollman has signed a new, short-term contract with the Premiership club to see out the delayed 2019-20 season.
Dollman, 35, who was director of rugby Rob Baxter's first Chiefs signing when he arrived from Newport Gwent Dragons in 2009, was expected to leave when his existing one-year deal ran out.
Although that deal expired on 30 June, Dollman has now agreed to stay on.
Stephen Myler among nine players to leave London Irish
London Irish have released nine players including Stephen Myler at the end of their current contract.
Scott Steele joins the departure list and has been with the Exiles six seasons scoring 115 points while Franco van der Merwe will depart after making over 50 appearances.
The others to leave the club include Dave Porecki, Saia Fainga'a, Alivereti Veitokani, Bryce Campbell, Pat Cilliers and Tom Stephenson.
James Lowe stays on
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James Lowe confirmed that he has signed a new three year deal with Leinster. Lowe will become eligible to play for Ireland in November.
The Hurricanes release Assistant coach Carlos Spencer
Former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer has been released from his role as an assistant coach at the Hurricanes.
The club released a short statement confirming Spencer's departure due to the financial pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Beauden Barrett joins an illustrious group of players to sign for Suntory Sungoliath
Beauden Barrett's move to Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath sees the All Black playmaker join an illustrious group of former test stars who have pulled on the yellow and black jersey.
The All Blacks star will miss next year's Super Rugby season with the Blues to join the Top League side but will return in time for the international season.
Beauden Barrett can still play for the All Blacks in 2021 despite his move to Japan, here is why 👇— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) July 3, 2020
Adam Jones wanted for shock return
New Ospreys coach Toby Booth has targeted Welsh front-row legend Adam Jones to significantly bolster his backroom team at the Liberty Stadium, according to reports.
But The Rugby Paper report his plans to bring the multi-decorated Wales and Lions prop home from Harlequins are being thwarted by the Gallagher Premiership big guns.
The Hurricanes sign former Blues' pivot Simon Hickey
The Hurricanes backline is set to be bolstered with the signing of first-five Simon Hickey. Originally from Auckland, the 26-year-old made a name for himself as the Captain of the Kings College 1st XV, a NZ schools representative and the captain of the NZ Under-20s team.
Whilst he made a debut for Auckland in 2012 and the Blues in 2014, Hickey’s career has been split between France and then Scotland for the last five years. He returned home just before the COVID-19 pandemic with the ambition of playing Super Rugby again - a goal he’s elated to have achieved.
The coaching staff the new Billionaire investors at Béziers could turn to
Billionaire investors from the United Arab Emirates are set to takeover PROD2 side Beziers and along with a star-studded list of players linked with the club, the side are set to be boosted by a world class coaching ticket.
The ambitious French club is currently battling in the highly competitive French second division but the once-proud club won 11 French titles and are desperate to be a major force in Europe again and are prepared to go on a spending spree to achieve that.
Former France international Christophe Dominici is set to become the club's Sporting Director with former Wallabies head coach Michael Chieka to join as the side's head coach.
Saracens captain Brad Barritt to leave the club after 12 years
Saracens captain and centre Brad Barritt has signed a contract extension with the club that will see he remain with the side until the end of the 2019/20 season which will be the former England centre's last season at the club.
The 33-year-old will be available for the rest of the Premiership campaign and the Champions Cup quarter-final as he bids to finish his illustrious Sarries career on a high.
Bath confirm the 16 players that will leave the club
Eight forwards will leave the club including World Cup-winning Springbok flanker Francois Louw.
Hanging up his well-worn boots is World Cup winning Springbok and supporter favourite, Francois Louw. The 34-year-old Springbok is one of the longest-serving players in Bath Rugby’s squad, having been with the Club for nine seasons in what has been an incredible domestic and international career. Fittingly, the famous Blue, Black and White shirt will be the last he pulls on as a professional player, after making over 140 appearances for the Club.
Alex Davies, Aled Brew, Jackson Willison, Tom Homer, Freddie Burns and Levi Davies are amount the backs that will leave the club with Rhys Webb's loan deal also coming to an end.
South Africa recruit Saracens Head of Athletic Performance
Andy Edwards, the experienced Saracens Strength and Conditioning coach, has been appointed as the new Head of Athletic Performance for the Springboks.
SA Rugby confirmed on Friday that Edwards will take up his new role with the Springboks on 1 August, and will travel to Cape Town as soon as possible considering the resumption of international travel to South Africa.
Wasps legend Ashley Johnson lands a player-coach role in England's third division
Former Springbok and Wasps forward Ashley Johnson has signed on to become a player-coach at Birmingham Moseley, the club confirmed on Thursday. The South African left Wasps in June after making 198 appearances and was offered a deal to return to South Africa with the Bulls but turned down the offer to remain in England.
Western Force recruit experienced Wallabies
The Western force have announced the signing of Pekahou Cowan and Nick Frisby ahead of their opening Super Rugby AU game next week.
Another 2️⃣ Wallabies join the team!— Western Force (@westernforce) July 1, 2020
We are very excited to announce that much loved @Pekcowan and Nick Frisby will be pulling on the Force jersey for #SuperRugbyAU 2020!https://t.co/oHD2XJ9eU3#ForceForever pic.twitter.com/XMno4nwEJl
Leicester Tigers confirm the departure of five players including Manu Tuilagi
Leicester Tigers chief executive Andrea Pinchen confirmed that England stars Tuilagi and Kyle Eastmond, and also Telusa Veainu, Greg Bateman and Noel Reid have left the Welford Road club.
The Tigers’ chief executive confirmed the departures of the five, who were not prepared to take a 25% pay cut next season despite a pledge that some of it would be reimbursed once the club returned to profitability.
Marcos Kremer heads to Paris
Stade Francais confirmed the signing of Los Pumas' forward Marcos Kremer who joins fellow Argentines Pablo Matera and Nicholas Sanchez at the club.
The highly-rated forward joins former Jaguares' coach Gonzalo Quesada at the club.
Saracens sign Namibian international back-rower
Saracens latest acquisition is in the form of powerful back-rower Janco Venter.
The 25-year-old, who represented Stellenbosch University and Western Province as he climbed the ladder, has been capped 28 times for his native Namibia, including two World Cups.
Bristol secure new scrum coach in ex-Scotland international
Bristol Bears have announced that they have secured the services of former Scotland international prop Alasdair Dickinson.
Dickinson enjoyed a decorated career that involved 58 caps for Scotland and three World Cups. Since his retirement, he has been involved with the Scottish senior men, women, U20s and academies.
Cult Figure Taumalolo Returns To Hawke's Bay
Tongan International and former Chiefs' Super Rugby winner, Sona Taumalolo has signed with Hawke’s Bay for the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup season.
One of Hawke’s Bays favorite sons of Magpies' faithful, Taumalolo has been playing in France for Perpignan, Racing 92 and Grenoble since 2012 and is looking forward to the chance to add to his 61 caps and 18 tries for the Magpies.
Mamuka Gorgodze's career comes to an end
Georgian legend, Mamuka Gorgodze's Toulon career has officially come to an end after 6 seasons, 110 games played in the red jersey while also winning the Champions Cup with the side in 2015.
❤️1⃣1⃣0⃣ 🖤@mamukagorgodze met un terme à sa carrière après 6⃣ saisons, 110 matchs disputés sous le maillot du RCT et un titre de Champion d'Europe en 2015 ⭐️— RCT - RC Toulon (@RCTofficiel) July 1, 2020
Un immense merci pour notre guerrier de la rade !⚓️
Laissez lui un message en commentaire 👇💬 pic.twitter.com/e8HOoBiDO2
Gorgodze played 75 tests for Georgian scoring 27 tries while featuring four Rugby World Cups.
Oupa Mohoje signs a contract extension at the Cheetahs
The Cheetahs have confirmed that 29-year-old flanker Oupa Mohoje’s contract has been extended until 31 May 2021.
The experienced Mohoje captained the South African A side against the England Saxons in 2016 and played in 19 matches for the Springboks. Mohoje made 78 appearances for the Cheetahs since he joined the team in 2013. He wore the orange jersey in 39 Super Rugby- and 23 Currie Cup games and he has 16 Guinness PRO14 caps.
French Pro D2 club Beziers seek signature ofTaulupe Faletau, among others
Beziers, having recently been acquired by a Middle Eastern billionaire, are in the midst of a shopping spree that looks set to revamp the Pro D2 club with an injection of new and significant talent.
Beziers’ latest target, according to walesonline.co.uk, is Wales international number 8 Taulupe Faletau, who is currently a member of Bath.
Faletau, who boasts 84 caps for Wales and 4 for the British & Irish Lions, has been approached by Beziers’ Director of Rugby Christophe Dominici and, with the club’s £10 million budget for new players, it seems they are capable of offering the 113kg bruiser an enticing financial incentive.