Barrett, Penaud, the brightest stars of the 2023 transfer window

After their second world title in November 2015, All Blacks Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Colin Slade came to settle at Racing 92 and Pau. Australians Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sekope Kepu took charge of Bordeaux while South African Duane Vermeulen moved to Toulon.

The trend changed in 2019 when, after the World Cup, the Japanese championship became a direct competitor of the Top 14. “In Japan, players earn more in six months than they can touch in France in a season and the competition is less physically demanding”, explains sports agent Laurent Quaglia.

Among the Springboks, for example, while Handre Pollard and Eben Etzebeth joined Montpellier and Toulon after their world title, Pieter Steph du Toit, Malcolm Marx and Jesse Kriel chose the J-League.

Which does not mean that the Top 14 has lost its power of attraction. It remains strong especially because the English championship, badly affected by the British economic crisis, no longer has the means to overcome them.

One eye on Barrett, the other on Jalibert

From the end of the summer, the catalog of international players available in November 2023 began to circulate. Because negotiations for world-class players are prepared a year in advance. As announced by RMC, Racing 92 have contacted representatives of All Blacks starting half Beauden Barrett. Is the case connected? No. Because this great talent (104 games, 36 tests) has huge salary expectations for a 31-year-old player. And then Racing 92, who are looking for a ten to replace Scotsman Finn Russell, are keeping an eye on how Matthieu Jalibert’s season with UBB is developing, but we’ll get back to that.

Among the All Blacks, the thirties Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock but also the first player Richie Mo’Unga, should be free to monetize their resume. For now, it is right-back Nepo Laulala who seems to have found a base in Toulouse to replace Charlie Faumuina.

While he seemed hesitant to bet big on a foreign player, the desire to land a big hit resurfaced among some Top 14 presidents. “We are in a context of growth. The club has found harmony in its vision, says Bernard Pontneau, Pau’s president. “Now, we may have to look for a player who will take us more to a specific position. »

“We will watch carefully”, assures Laurent Marti, president of the UBB. “You have to be ready to move if an opportunity arises because the JIFF market is small. »

La Rochelle, Toulouse and the UBB in search of Penaud

Damian Penaud with the Blues at Murrayfield.


This is indeed one of the characteristics of the current landscape. Good players who have the label “Player of the French formation” are a popular commodity. All clubs that have leading French internationals have been careful to lock them down contractually, sometimes for a long time like Toulouse.

There is only one world-class blue on the market today: Damian Penaud (25, 34 games) who should not stay at Clermont. According to our information, three clubs are fighting to sign the France XV winger: La Rochelle, Toulouse and Union Bordeaux-Bègles. Racing 92, who were in the race, seemed to turn to Lyonnais Josua Tuisova.

And then, as we mentioned above, it remains the case of Matthieu Jalibert. The UBB opener is under contract until 2025. After his clash with Christophe Urios at the end of last season, he did not publicly express his desire to leave but made it known. Has he changed his mind? He parted ways with his agent. Like Cameron Woki, Racing 92 would be ready to host him. But it seems unlikely that Laurent Marti will grant an exit ticket to a player in whom he has invested heavily.

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