Top14 Signings: The EPCR Stars Strengthening French Clubs

Top14 Signings: The EPCR Stars Strengthening French Clubs

We now know the Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup pools for the 2024/25 campaign, and so it’s time to turn our attention to who might be on the field.

In particularly, this summer has seen the French clubs already draft in several EPCR stars from abroad to strengthen their sides as they push to make the 2025 EPCR Challenge Cup and Investec Champions Cup finals at Cardiff’s Principality stadium.

Owen Farrell – Racing 92

Is there any other place to start? Farrell’s move to Parisian club Racing 92 is perhaps the biggest rugby transfer of the past few seasons, and the three-time winner of the EPCR’s elite competition will look to help his new club finally earn a first title. 

With 112 England caps and 1,237 international points, many consider him the greatest ever English player and his record for Saracens is equally impressive, as he moved up to second in the all-time Champions Cup points scorers list last season with 874. 

EPCR’s Player of the Year in 2017, he will be key as Racing 92 try to battle out of Pool 4 and beyond. 

Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam – RC Toulon

Having failed to progress from their Investec Champions Cup pool last season, three-time winners RC Toulon mean business this season and have called in reinforcements from across La Manche. 

Former Bristol Beats prop Kyle Sinckler will be a powerful option at prop while Lewis Ludlam departs Northampton Saints to add even more beef to the pack from second-row. 

That’s not all from RC Toulon however; centre Antoine Frisch has joined from Munster Rugby and has been called up to this summer’s French squad, while 23-year-old Italian international hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi joins from Benetton Rugby. 

Jonny Gray and Joey Carbery - Union Bordeaux-Bègles

Union Bordeaux-Bègles were inspired at times last season, but ultimately fell at the final hurdle in the TOP14 and were stunned by Harlequins in the quarter-final of the Investec Champions Cup. 

Yannick Bru has therefore drafted in second-row and 2020 Champions Cup winner Jonny Gray from Exeter Chiefs, while Munster Rugby fly-half Joey Carbery departs Ireland for Bordeaux after eight years which saw him start out at Leinster Rugby, with whom he won the 2018 Champions Cup title. 

Sam Matavesi – Lyon Olympique Universitaire

Fijian international Sam Matavesi had an interesting route to the top, playing for lower league sides Plymouth Albion and Cornish Pirates whilst balancing a career in the Royal Navy - before he had a surprise short loan to Investec Champions Cup holder Stade Toulousain in 2019. 

He then moved to Northampton Saints and was part of the matchday squad who lifted last season’s Gallagher Premiership, and now he’s set to join Lyon Olympique Universitaire as they look to win the EPCR Challenge Cup for a second time. 

Manu Tuilagi - Aviron Bayonnais

A solid debut in the Investec Champions Cup saw Aviron Bayonnais finish fifth in their pool, but this season they return to the EPCR Challenge Cup and will expect to be strong contenders for the title – especially with the arrival of Sale Sharks centre Manu Tuilagi. 

The England international will offer serious experience, defensive solidity and quality in attack in what may go down as one of the signings of the season. 

Mako Vunipola – RC Vannes

Newly-promoted RC Vannes will be involved in the EPCR Challenge Cup for the first time this season and have announced the arrival of English international Mako Vunipola.

The prop won two titles with Saracens in 2016 and 2017 and is the club’s marquee signing ahead of the new campaign, in which both progression from Pool 3 and survival in the French top-flight will be the targets.

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