Here's who the Top 14 clubs have signed for the 2015/16 season

The French sides absolutely love a bit of recruitment.

LAST WEEK, WE brought you a round-up of the key signings made by the English Premiership sides ahead of the 2015/16 season.

Paul O'Connell O'Connell is heading for Toulon next season. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Today, we turn our attention to the Top 14, detailing the important signings made by each of the French clubs over the summer.

Paul O’Connell’s move to Toulon dominated the headlines here in Ireland, but a host of other high-profile deals have been completed. 


After winning the Pro D2 promotion play-off final last season, Agen have brought in a host of new faces, including Fiji international back row Apisai Naikatini and classy South African centre Johann Sadie.

Irish prop Dave Ryan joins after a season with Ulster, while pacy New Zealand sevens specialist George Tilsley is an interesting addition. Agen have also signed up a handful of French payers, including promising 21-year-old lock Corentin Braendlin from Toulon.


Head coach Raphaël Ibañez has done a fine job with his recruitment ahead of the new season, with Wallaby pair Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sekope Kepu top of the bill in terms of profile.

Adam Ashley-Cooper is tackled by Jonathan Sexton and Simon Zebo Ashley-Cooper is an excellent signing for Bordeaux. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

The excellent 23-year-old South African loosehead Steven Kitshoff should prove to be a valuable capture, while Kiwi back row Luke Braid comes in from the Blues. Bordeaux have also signed two French internationals with bundles of potential in the shape of number eight Loann Goujon and Jean-Marcelin Buttin.

Off the pitch, ex-France and Toulouse wing Emile Ntamack has replaced Vincent Etcheto as backs coach.


The unglamorous Limousin-based side haven’t been making too many headlines with their work in the transfer market, though New Zealander William Whetton is a good addition from Castres.

Lock Joe Snyman has joined from the Scarlets, while Frenchmen Matthieu Ugalde and Lucas Pointud both move to Brive from Bayonne. Fiesty scrum-half Teddy Iribaren is another new face after leaving Montpellier this summer.


After a highly-disappointing 2014/15 season, Castres have brought in some important new players, but it may be the capture of new sporting director Christope Urios that proves most important.

On the pitch, the prolific David Smith has joined from Toulon, as has centre/wing Rudi Wulf, another supreme physical specimen.

Barbarians David Smith  is tackled by IrelandÕs Luke Marshall The heavy-quadded David Smith has joined Castres.

Argentinian out-half Benjamin Urdapilleta was perhaps the most important individual player in the Top 14 last season with Oyonnax, while Alexandre Bias brings his intelligent back row play from Montpellier.

Joining Urios and Urdapilleta in moving from Oyonnax is promising prop Antoine Tichit, while the hugely abrasive and effective number eight Alex Tulou signs on after being discarded by Montpellier.

Former New Zealand U20 prop Eric Sione is another new face for Urios to work with, while France U20 centre François Fontaine moves from Clermont.


Can Clermont get over the final hurdle this season? Their hopes of doing so have been buoyed by the arrivals of England international wing David Strettle from Saracens, Kiwi powerhouse Hosea Gear from the Chiefs and French-capped flyer Adrien Planté from Racing Métro.

Staying in the back three, France fullback Scott Spedding has joined from Bayonne. Up front, the locking department has been boosted by Springbok Flip van der Merwe, while dynamic back row Camille Gérondeau has moved from Racing.

One to keep a close eye on for the future is Judicaël Cancoriet, who has been poached from the Massy club. Versatile Fijian back Albert Vulivuli has arrived after a medical joker stint in Montpellier.


Bernard Jackman’s side will look to make a dent on the top half of the table this season, aided by new Tongan international prop Sona Taumalolo.

Alisona Taumalolo Grenoble have a new Tongan international prop. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Among the other additions are former Highlanders and Chiefs back row/lock Stephen Setephano and English second row James Percival from Worcester Warriors.

There’s plenty of new French talent at Grenoble too this season, with lock Mathias Marie having been drafted in from Biarritz, exciting wing Lucas Dupont returning from Montpellier, powerful prop Walter Desmaison coming in from Racing and experienced out-half/centre Fabrice Estebanez joining from Lyon.

La Rochelle

Buoyed by their ninth-place finish in 2014/15, La Rochelle will set about maintaining their Top 14 status again with two new Southern Hemisphere signings on board in out-Australian half/centre Zack Holmes from the Western Force and Fiji-born back David Raikuna out of North Harbour, the latter on a ‘joker’ contract for the World Cup.

Former South Africa scrum-half Ricky Januarie has joined from the relegated Lyon, while centre Thomas Combezou also boosts the backline after signing from Montpellier.

Among a handful of further French signings, fullback Benjamin Lapeyre from Racing Métro and hooker David Roumieu from Bayonne are fine bits of business.


World Cup-winning head coach Jake White has stamped his mark all over Montpellier this summer by bringing in now less than 11 South African players, as well as two Australians from his former club the Brumbies.

Pierre Spies Pierre Spies is one of the many new South Africa faces at MHR. Source: Barry Aldworth/SPORTZPIC/INPHO

Wallaby duo Nic White and Jesse Mogg have signed, while front row duo Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, number eight Pierre Spies and former Leinster prop CJ van der Linde are all Springboks.

Halfback Cameron Wright, back row Wiaan Liebenberg, bruising lock Paul Willemse, tighthead Jacobie Adriaanse, loosehead Schalk van der Merwe, flanker Jacques du Plessis and promising out-half Demetri Catrikilis continue the South African theme.

Completing Montpellier’s extensive recruitment are French wing pair Marvin O’Connor from Bayonne and Julien Malzieu from Clermont, while Fijian prospect Seveci Nakailagi also joins. Ex-France lock Abdelatif Benazzi has also joined as manager.


Having surprised everyone by finishing inside the top six last season and qualify for the Champions Cup in doing so, Oyonnax have had a busy summer of transfer movement.

Among the arrivals is Irish centre Eamonn Sheridan, who has signed from London Irish. Former All Black Piri Weepu has completed his permanent switch from London Welsh, as lock/back row George Robson moves from Harlequins.

Wales international Nicky Robinson provides an option at out-half, while former Connacht wide man Fetu’u Vainikolo and the classy Vincent Martin offer pace on the wings.

The dynamic Pierrick Gunther might prove an important acquisition from Toulon, while Tongan international lock Joe Tuineau has also signed. Former Clermont wing Uwa Tawalo is another to watch out for in the wide channels.


The Top 14 newcomers have grabbed lots of attention with the captures of All Blacks pair Conrad Smith and Colin Slade, as well as Scotland international prop Euan Murray.

MunsterÕs Paddy Butler Paddy Butler joins the ex-Munster contingent at Pau.

Back row duo Paddy Butler and Sean Dougall have joined former Munster teammate James Coughlan in Pau, while France international lock Julien Pierre is joined in making the move down from Clermont by Thierry Lacrampe.

Hooker Thomas Bianchin is a solid signing from Montpellier, as is Argentinian out-half/centre Santiago Fernandez from Bayonne. Among the final signings are flying Fijian wing Watisoni Votu and Kiwi prop Chris King from Montpellier.

Racing 92

The legendary Dan Carter will arrive post-World Cup to take up the position vacated by Johnny Sexton, although France international Rémi Tales might be planning on occupying the 10 shirt after moving up to Paris from Castres.

At the age of 36, Chris Masoe has joined from Toulon in search of a fresh challenge, while the rangy Yannick Nyanga has done much the same after leaving Toulouse this off-season.

The explosive Ben Tameifuna bolsters the front row having signed from the Chiefs in New Zealand, with Italy international Martin Castrogiovanni also joining from Toulon.

Argentina lock Manuel Carizza returns to the club from the Stormers in Super Rugby, as South African hooker Akker van der Merwe (World Cup joker) and Tongan lock Lisiate Fa’aoso also come in.

Stade Français

Stade’s efforts to retain their title will be helped by the arrival of Australia scrum-half Will Genia after the World Cup. He’ll be joined by the bludgeon of a ball carrier that is South Africa back row Willem Alberts.

Stephen Ferris wraps up Will Genia Will Genia boosts the Stade squad this season. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Former Australia U20 prop Paul Alo-Emile has been recruited, as has the imposing front row Emmanuel Felsina from Lyon.

The brilliant France U20 back row Sekou Macalou is one for the future, having joined from Massy this summer.


The capture of Paul O’Connell is crucial for the European champions, as they have lost the experience and leadership of Carl Hayman, Ali Williams, Bakkies Botha and Chris Masoe this summer.

All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu adds quality to an already-strong midfield, while Australian pair James O’Connor and Quade Cooper will add to the creativity in the backline. The power of Samu Manoa is another brilliant addition.

World-class number eight Duane Vermeulen has been drafted in from South Africa, as has England international prop Matt Stevens. Australian prop Salesi Ma’afu is another international addition from Northampton Saints.

In terms of French additions, number eight Charles Ollivon has huge potential, as does his former Bayonne teammate Anthony Etrillard, a hooker.

Fiery goal-kicking wing Julien Caminati joins on a ‘joker’ contract for the World Cup period, while Béziers prop Mohamed Boughanmi and second row Thibault Lassalle have also come on board.

Gordon D'Arcy and Rob Kearney with Ma'a Nonu Nonu is part of the Toulon squad for 2015/16. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Finally, France-capped, place-kicking scrum-half Jonathan Pélissié has joined from Montpellier to complete a busy period of recruitment.


With Guy Novès preparing to succeed Philippe Saint-André as the man in charge of les Bleus after the World Cup, Toulouse have a new staff of head coach Ugo Mola and team manager Fabien Pelous, both of them ex-players at the club.

On the pitch, it’s all about continuity with only three new faces in the squad. Scrum-half David Mélé joins from Leicester, South African prop Gert Muller comes in from Bayonne and the brilliant Fijian 7s player Semi Kunatani.

- This article was updated at 10.52 on 9 July to include mention of Samu Manoa’s move to Toulon.

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Murray Kinsella

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