IT IS still very early in the covid-hit 2020/21 Top 14 season, but the transfer market waits for no one. Here’s a rundown of some of the big contract rumours so far.
The France and Racing 92 centre, out of contract in June, is being namechecked quite a bit in the Premiership – with reports that Bath, Gloucester, Northampton and Sale are more than interested. His friendship with Bristol’s Semi Radradra is said to have awakened dreams of an English adventure, but much will depend on his international ambitions. Officially, France does not have a no-overseas-selection policy, but they – and Racing – will be keen to keep their star player under French union control.
There are plenty of covetous eyes on Racing 92’s roster right now, with several key players’ contracts up for renewal. Toulouse have winger Thomas in their sights. Kolbe on one wing, Thomas on the other? Yes, please.
It appears Huget is the three-quarter sacrifice Mola is prepared to make to land Thomas. The former France international is one of three Toulouse backs whose contracts are up at the 2019 champions. But the coach is keen to keep his hands on younger players Lucas Tauzin and Matthis Lebel. Bayonne – as well as La Rochelle – are said to be interested in Huget’s signature.
The 27-year-old prop has played well over 100 times for Racing 92 since signing his first professional contract in 2014. But he has been deemed surplus to requirements at the club, reports say. No news, for now, on where he may end up, but the 10-times France international will surely have no shortage of suitors.
The Argentinian followed coach Christophe Urios from Oyonnax to Castres in 2015 and is keen to reunite with him at Bordeaux, reports say, where he would replace Ben Botica, whose contract is not being renewed. His experience is being touted as ‘useful’ for the club and young France fly-half Matthieu Jalibert. He may not be the only one to follow the Urios Oyonnax-Castres-Bordeaux route: Castres loosehead Antoine Tichit is said to favour a move to wine country.
One Argentinian – possibly – in; one – maybe – out. Bordeaux have made it clear they want winger Cordero to stay, but it seems he’s interested in heading back to the Premiership. Discussions are said to be under way with his old club, Exeter, while Wasps, Bath and Harlequins are all, reportedly, watching with interest.
And, back to Racing. Who wouldn’t want to sign their young number 8 Jordan Joseph, who’s out of contract in June? Racing are desperate to keep hold of him. Montpellier have reportedly made him a priority target, with Louis Picamoles out of contract at the end of the season. Toulon want him as a replacement for Sergio Parisse. Bordeaux, reportedly expecting to lose Marco Tauleigne to Castres, want him too. … Heck, even Castres have even been mentioned as a – hugely unlikely – longshot option.
Lyon, Pau and Toulon are all reportedly trying to pry the Fijian fullback from Brive’s clutches. The Correze club is not willing to let go – and no wonder.
The international centre has played for Stade Francais since turning pro in 2011. But he is set to leave at the end of the season after agreeing to join La Rochelle, it is widely reported in France. The Atlantic coast club are in the market for centres, with both Geoffrey Doumayrou and Pierre Aguillon at the end of their contracts. The former has already been linked with a move to Castres Olympique.
Impressed by his performances early in the season while on a season-long loan from France 7s, Clermont were keen to sign Barraque – rapidly coming to the end of his current 7s contract – to a longer deal in the 15-player game. But international coach Jérôme Darret has insisted he expects Barraque to be available for the world circuit in 2021, as well as the repechage for the Olympics.
There’s said to be a three-way tug-of-love for the services of La Rochelle flanker Bourdeau. The 28-year-old has done his market value no harm with some fine performances in recent weeks. La Rochelle are keen to keep him. No doubt Christophe Urios – whose Bordeaux side were on the receiving end of one Bordeau masterclass at the weekend – will be upping his interest. But apparently bottomless moneypit Montpellier are also said to be interested. Bordeau to Bordeaux surely the most appropriate?
This article is part of a brief run of French rugby news, previews and reviews in English. I also do interviews, features and opinion pieces – please check out my portfolio. If you are interested in commissioning pieces from me, please email me.