It’s been a really exciting summer of transfer dealings with some major names breaking long-standing ties on moving on to the next challenge. The increased wage cap in France has seen a huge influx of talent into the Top 14 whilst a number of Premiership clubs have attempted to keep up with big signings of their own. Here we take a look at what we feel are the 10 biggest signings of the season. This is not necessarily a list of the 10 best players to have moved this summer but 10 players we feel can really make a difference at their new clubs.
The former Leinster man has joined big-spending Racing Metro over the summer along with a handful of Lions team-mates. Whilst it would be easy to argue the likes of Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate are huge acquisitions for the Parisians it is in Johnny Sexton there will be the most expectation. Now one of the top earners in world rugby Sexton will be integral to getting a mis-firing Racing backline scoring tries again this season.
Another Lion on the move this summer, huge Welsh wing George North joins Premiership runners-up Northampton Saints tasked with getting them over the try line. His pace and power will be a huge asset to Jim Mallinder’s men and if he can find some early try-scoring form then Saints will look like a real contender for some silverware come the end of the season.
Yet another star name on the Toulon team sheet this season, Bernard Laporte will be hoping the Springbok speedster will be able to help improve his sides try scoring prowess. Despite dominating games for large parts of last season Toulon still played a very cautious game but will hope that the signing of Habana will help to unleash some extra flair in the backs and ensure they claim a few more 5-pointers this season.
After a couple of seasons of building strongly and challenging teams at the top of the table Montpellier will hope this is the year they can breakthrough into the upper-echelons of the French Top 14. Former All Black Rene Ranger will be key to this challenge as his ability to play either on the wing or in the centres should allow the men from the South of France to make the most of the talented distribution of French fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc.
The former Worcester man joins Gloucester on the back of a breakthrough season that saw him earn his first caps for England. Not only could Kvesic be the answer to England’s dilemma at openside, but his ability to win turn overs at the breakdown could prove key to giving Freddie Burns the ball to distribute out to the Cherry and White’s backs who have proved to be devastating when counter-attacking.
Saracens have become notorious in the English Premiership for being one of the most solid sides in the competition, pummelling the opposition up front before launching a full attack. In the Vunipola brothers they have two extremely talented ball carriers who will punch holes in the opposition lines for the likes of Chris Ashton and Alex Goode to exploit at will.
Stade Francais were yet another French team who struggled to score tries on a consistent basis in the Top 14 last season. In Digby Ioane they have a prove finished who will guarantee them a bag-full of tries each season and provide a constant attacking threat. His willingness to chase balls will also be a huge asset with Morne Steyn bringing his huge boot the club this season.
Whilst Jenkins may not have enjoyed the most successful spell with Toulon last season the importance of his return to the Arms Park is not to be underestimated. Jenkins will help add power and forward momentum to the Blues scrum whilst his experience will be essential in helping some of Cardiff’s exciting youngsters reach their potential.
It’s fair to say that Andy Goode may not be the most glamorous signing of the season (despite his luscious long hair) but his arrival signals an intent to develop young talent at the club. Goode will provide a steady hand for the Wasps ship this season whilst also helping to mentor some of the exciting youngsters waiting to break through into the Wasps first team. Playing with Goode and being coached by Stephen Jones is sure to help young talent like Tommy Bell develop into top fly-halves.
Ralepelle joins Top 14 giants Toulouse on the back of the club losing three hooker in the off-season including club legend William Servat. The powerful hookers ability to quickly integrate into the Toulouse first team will be essential in their challenge on the Top 14 title.