The New Signings Each Top 14 Club Made During The Off Season

The New Signings Each Top 14 Club Made During The Off Season

The French Top 14 returns this weekend in a mouth-watering opening round of fixtures.

Newly promoted Biarritz Olympique opening the competition against last season's semi-finalists Union Bordeaux Begles on Saturday 4 September. 


Having finished in the bottom four last season, Brive will look to start the new season on a high when they face off against the other newly-promoted side Perpignan before Castres and Pau face off in the penultimate game of the opening day.

Saturday's action concludes with a Paris-derby as Stade Francais host Racing 92. Toulon host the current Challenge Cup champions, Montpellier, in the first game on Sunday before Clermont head to Lyon. 

The opening weekend concludes with a replay of last season's final with La Rochelle hosting Champions Toulouse.


Ahead of the 2021/22 season, we take a look at how the clubs have fared on the transfer front in preparation for the new season.

Biarritz


Limerick , Ireland - 28 May 2021; James Cronin of Munster is tackled by Cory Hill of Cardiff Blues during the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup match between Munster and Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park in Limerick. (Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Having gained promotion through a plenty shootout in the promotion-relegation game, Biarritz have strengthened a number of key areas in their squad in an attempt to survive in their first season back in the top flight of French rugby. 

Former Munster prop James Cronin has been added to their ranks as too have props Zakaria El Fakir (from Agen) and  Quentin Samaran (Beziers). Lock Josh Tyrell has joined from Oyonnax while they have also added depth in their back row with Antoine Erban joining from Pau and former All Blacks' flanker Elliot Dixon joining from Ricoh Black Rams.

Biarritz have added experience to their scrumhalf stocks for the new season in the 35-year-old scrumhalf Clement Darbo from Provence Rugby and 32-year-old Tomas Cubelli who joins from the Western Force.

Harlequins' pivot Brett Herron has also joined the squad with centres Vincent Martin and former Wallaby Tevita Kuridrani coming in from Montpellier and the Western Force respectively. 

Bordeaux

Bordeaux have been more pragmatic in their signings following a solid season. With Ben Botica leaving the side to join Castres, Bordeaux have signed Francois Trinh-Duc from Racing 92 to provide cover for Mathieu Jalibert while head coach Christophe Urios has looked to France's second division in his other signings. 

Back rower Bastien Vergnes-Taillefer has joined from Colomiers with fellow loose foraward Alban Roussel joining from Perpignan. Argetine hooker Pablo Dimcheff adds to the side's depth in the position signing from Angoulême.

The club's biggest signing this season is the promising centre Federico Mori from Zebre. 

Brive

KAMAISHI, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 25: Tevita Ratuva runs past Santiago Arata of Uruguay during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group D game between Fiji and Uruguay at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2019 in Kamaishi, Iwate, Japan. (Photo by Warren Little - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Having finished just outside of relegation last season, one would have expected a bit more from Brive on the transfer front ahead of 2021/22. However, they have brought in just four senior players in scrumhalves Paul Abadie (Agen), Enzo Sagna (Valence Romans), lock Andres Zafra (Agen) and arguably their biggest acquisition lock Tevita Ratuva (Scarlets).

With 10 players leaving the club, Brive may be in for a long season unless their academy is able to bolster the senior squad. 

Castres

Quentin WALCKER of Perpignan during the Pro D2 match between Perpignan and Biarritz at Stade Aime Giral on April 8, 2021 in Perpignan, France. (Photo by Alexandre Dimou/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Castres have made a host of signings ahead of the new season with a number of lesser-known players joining the squad.

Recently capped by France against Australia, Quentin Walcker joins Castres having helped Perpignan to promotion. Highlanders' back-rower Teariki Ben-Nicholas has been brought in to soften the blow of Anthony Jelonch's move to Toulouse with Antoine Guillamon coming in to cover the loss of Daniel Kotze.

Head coach Mauricio Reggiardo has added two hookers from the PROD2 in Brendan Lebrun from Vannes and Brice Humbret from Valence Romans. Lock Théo Hannoyer also joins from Valence while Castres have gone to Sydney University to grab a back-rower in 25-year-old Nick Champion de Crespigny. 

The club snapped up another back-rower from Grenoble in 20-year-old Feibyan Cornell Tukino.

Flyhalf Ben Botica has joined the side from Bordeaux as to has centre, Pierre Aguillon, from La Rochelle. Promising centre Antoine Zeghdar has joined the side from Oyonnax with two further PRO D2 outside backs in Thomas Larregain (Colomiers) and Josaia Raisuqe (Nevers) have joined the side.

Clermont

Argentinas lock Tomas Lavanini (C) is tackled by South Africa's prop Steven Kitshoff (down) during the Rugby Championship international rugby union Test match between South Africa and Argentina at The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on August 21, 2021. (Photo by Michael Sheehan / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL SHEEHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Jono Gibbes hasn't splashed the cash out ahead of his first season in charge of Clermont with just three new signings. Luckily for the new boss, there are just three players that have left the side too.

Rory Jennings, Tim Nanai-Williams and Peter Betham have all departed the club while Gibbes has added grunt to his pack in the form of Los Pumas lock Tomas Lavanini. 

Former Munster flyhalf JJ Hanrahan has been brought in to replace Jennings while 19-year-old prop Djalil Agueni has also joined the Yellow Army.

La Rochelle

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: Noah Lolesio of the Wallabies tackles Jonathan Danty of France during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and France at AAMI Park on July 13, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Ronan O'Gara has also added depth to his squad ahead of his first season in charge at La Rochelle.

The abrasive Jonathan Danty arrives from Stade Francais with the highly-rated Riko Buliruarua added further options in the midfield joining from Brive.

Flyhalf Pierre Popelin will battle the likes of Ihaia West and Jules Plisson for the #10 jumper having joined from Vannes with second-rower Rémi Picquette making the same move as Popelin.

Samoan hooker Motu Motu'u has made the move from London Irish while O'Gara has strengthened his front row with Argentine Joel Sclavi (Jaguares) and Georgian Guram Papidze (Nevers).

Lyon

 COVENTRY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31: Lima Sopoaga of Wasps looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and Harlequins at Ricoh Arena on January 31, 2021 in Coventry, England

Lyon have been in the market for a world-class flyhalf for some time now but finally locked one in with the signing of Lima Sopoaga from Wasps. 

Joining the former All Black at Lyon is winger Tavite Veredamu and loose forward Beka Saginadze both from Clermont.

The Taofifenua brothers Romain and Sebastien both move to Lyon from Toulon while Julian Marchand's brother Guillaume leaves Toulouse on loan to Lyon.

The final addition to the squad is Grenoble prop, Jerome Rey. 

Montpellier

Having claimed the Challenge Cup last season, Montpellier look set for another big season in 2021/22. 

Despite having World Cup-winning flyhalf Handre Pollard on their books, Montpellier landed the signing of rising star Paolo Garbisi ahead of the season with the 21-year-old signing from Benetton.

Montpellier have had further backs in centres Geoffrey Doumayrou (La Rochelle) and Pierre Lucas (Perginan) and outside backs Josua Vici (Colomiers) and Masivesi Dakuwaqa (Toulon).

The departure of Bismarck du Plessis have promoted the side to sign two new hookers in Wallaby rake Brandon Paenga-Amosa Jerémie Maurouard from Lyon.

Bordeaux's Marco Taueigne has added to Montpellier's back row options as too has the prolific Zach Mercer from Bath. The men in blue have also added props Henry Thomas (Bath) and Malik Hamadache (Pau).

Stade Francais

Ngani LAUMAPE of Paris during the Friendly match between Brive and Stade Francais on August 13, 2021 in Tulle, France. (Photo by Hugo Pfeiffer/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Stade Francais snagged an All Black in the offseason beating Toulon to the signature of blockbuster midfielder Ngani Laumape.

The Parisian club brought Laumape in to replace Gael Fickou who left the club during last season. England Sevens star Harry Glover has also joined the side.

Romain Briatte (Agen) and Charlie Francoz (Aurillac) add to the club's back row options while the imposing figure of JJ van der Merscht (Sharks) adds grunt to their locking options.

Finally, Nemo Roelofse (Nevers) and Clement Castets (Toulouse) add depth in the front row. 

Pau

Jack MADDOCKS of Section Paloise during the Friendly match between Bayonne and Pau at Stade Jean Dauger on August 19, 2021 in Bayonne, France. (Photo by Pierre Costabadie/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Having avoided relegation by the narrowest of margins, Pau have invested heavily in the off-season in an attempt to avoid a repeat of 2020/21.

Mathias Colombet (France 7s) and Jack Maddocks (Waratahs) have joined the club to cover at fullback with Jesse Mogg returning Down Under.

Daniel Ikpefan adds midfield cover having joined from Toulon with Agen centre Nathan Decron also joining the club.

Elton Jantjies was signed on a short term deal last season to cover for the injured Antoine Hastoy with the side now signing a permanent alternative in Zack Henry from Leicester Tigers.

20-year-old scrumhalf Alexis Levron joins from Vannes while Pau have also signed some serious firepower in their pack. 

The highly-rated Beka Gorgadze joins from Brive, lock Guillaume Ducat from Bayonne and lock Steve Cummings from the Melbourne Rebels.

Three props have also joined the side in the Highlanders' Siate Tokolahi, Remi Seneca from Vannes and Kevin Yameogo. Finally, hooker Youri Delhommel has signed from Montpellier.

Perpignan

Bautista DELGUY of Union Bordeaux-Begles during the Top 14 match between Union Bordeaux Begles and Clermont at Stade Chaban Delmas on January 16, 2021 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by Pierre Costabadie/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Perpignan have added 13 new players to their squad ahead of the new season with 12 departing the side having helped the club regain their Top 14 status.

Los Pumas flyer Bautista Delguy is the standout signing for the club after a 7 game, 2 try stint at Bordeaux last season. Delguy's fellow countryman Martin Landajo also joins the side having left Harlequins.

Having shone for Beziers on loan from Toulouse, South African pivot Tristan Tedder also joins Perpignan while the club have signed a trio of Fijians in winger Eddie Sawailau (Valence Romans), rugby league convert Brayden Wiliame from St. George Illawarra Dragons and finally lock Tevita Cavubati (Harlequins).

 Moldovan lock Andrei Mahu joins from London Irish as to does back-rower Matthieu Ugena from Pau. Hooker Mike Tadjer joins from Montauban while Georgian prop Giorgi Tetrashvili makes the switch from Agen. 

Finally, Perpignan signed a trio of props in Stade Francais' Sami Mavinga, Worcester's Conor Carey and La Rochelle's Arthur Joly.

Racing 92

Baptiste Pesenti of Pau during the Test match between Pau and Mont de Marsan on July 27, 2019 in Tarbes, France. (Photo by Manuel Blondeau/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

After the big midseason signing of Gael Fickou last season, Racing 92 have had a quiet off-season on the signings front but have added two key players.

Flyhalf Ben Volavola returns to the club after a stint with Perpignan while the highly-rated Baptiste Pesenti has been brought in to soften the blow following the departures of Donnacha Ryan, Antonie Claasen and Domonic Bird.

Toulon

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 07: Cheslin Kolbe of South Africa fends off Luke Cowan-Dickie of the British & Irish Lions during the Castle Lager Lions Series 3rd Test match between South Africa and British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)

After an underwhelming season where Toulon failed to secure a place in this season's Champions Cup, Toulon have splashed the cash and signed some top talents for the new season.

No signing is quite as significant as the acquisition of Springbok World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe. The side did add further firepower out wide with Bayonne's standout last season Aymeric Luc signing for the side.

Aurrillac's fullback Thomas Salles has also signed for the side as too Fiji Sevens star Jiuta Wainiqolo. The final addition in the back three is now former Pau speedster Atila Septar. Toulon also have the unknown presence of Fijian Petero Tuwai who was signed by the club on the advice of Sireli Bobo, who also suggested Virmi Vakatawa to Racing 92.

Scrumhalves Julien Blanc (Brive) and Jules Danglot (Montpellier) have also joined the clubs as they added further depth. Like the pack, Toulon have added the verstile Cornell du Preez (Worcester) and Lopeti Timani (La Rochelle).

In the second row, Fijian superstar Leone Nakawara (Glasgow) and Quinn Roux (Connacht) add to the lock stocks that already includes Eben Etzebeth. Finally, Kieran Brookes adds to the prop stocks from Wasps. 

Toulouse

Anthony JELONCH of France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Scotland at Stade de France on March 26, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Baptiste Fernandez/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Anthony Jelonch has been a long time target for Toulouse and following the retirement of Jerome Kaino, the club swooped in to finally get their man.

Jelonch captained France during their tour to Australia and is a handy addition to the back row with his ability to cover all three of the positions.

After a few injury scares in the backline last season, Toulouse have added the versatile Tim Nanai-Williams from Clermont while also welcoming back Martin Page-Relo from his loan spell with Carsconne.

While Toulouse have been relatively quiet with their signings, Perpignan star Melvyn Jaminet could make a late switch to Toulouse after Cheslin Kolbe's departure while the club's youth team did win the espoirs tournament last season, so they might dig into their Academy. 

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