A little twist and then it’s gone. Arriving last summer at the Stade Français with the status of a superstar, the black center Ngani Laumape is already leaving the capital club, having never lived up to expectations. But he’s not the only great international rugby player to fall into the Top 14. Lydiate, Ioane, Weepu, Savea… A look back at the most significant disappointments.
Gethin Jenkins (Toulon, 2012-2013)
In Wales, Gethin Jenkins is a monument. 129 selections under the porro shirt, 5 selections with the Lions army (this super team that brings together the best players of the British national teams), etc. For many, he is the greatest left-back in Welsh rugby history, a true rock in the scrum. So when RC Toulon manage to sign him in 2012, it looks like a very good move, the man who will finally manage to stop Var’s melee. Unfortunately, not everything will go according to plan: Jenkins will spend a year in the shadow of another legendary left-back, England’s Andrew Sheridan. Between injuries and performances below the expectations of the public and the squad, he will still play 21 games, but most of them as a substitute. During his time at RCT, the lily-of-the-valley club won their first European Cup… but Jenkins injured his calf in the final and withdrew for the final games of the Top 14. He will return to Wales incognito after a short season.
Dan Lydiate (Racing 92, 2013-2014)
Another Welshman who didn’t make the Top 14. Dan Lydiate arrived at Racing 92 in 2013, (then still called Racing-Métro 92) with the label of one of the best 3rd rows in the world . A tireless tackler, the baby-faced player has two 6 Nations wins with Wales (2012, 2013). He even came out of the 2012 Tournament with the title of best player, that’s all. However, he will never be able to leave his mark on Racing. Once in the shoes of a starter, he never manages to convince the staff and gradually slips to the sidelines. Before completely disappearing into the stands. At the end of the 2013-2014 season he had only 11 game cards. However, his contract is for two years and Lydiate, with a heavy heart, starts a new season in Ile-de-France. It won’t go all the way. After 3 months of the same caliber (only 4 games played since September 2014), he agrees with the management of Ile-de-France to leave Racing amicably, and return to his country.
Digby Ioane (French stadium, 2013-2015)
Fast, powerful, good defender, explosive. In 2013 we no longer feature Digby Ioane, then one of the best wingers on the international scene. An undisputed starter for the national team (11 tries for the Wallabies) and with his club Queenslands Reds, it is a surprise to see him sign for the Stade Français in the summer of 2013. A surprise that will quickly lose its appeal, views Australian performances. . Developing homesickness early on, Ioane is looking to leave at the end of the first year of his contract. It will still be one more year, the time to crown himself champion of France in 2015. An honorary title, since the winger was not on the match sheet at the Stade de France. In the end, he will have played 31 games in two seasons, during 5 small trials.
Zac Guildford (Clermont, 2014-2015)
New Zealand winger Zac Guildford burst into the eyes of the oval planet during the Rugby World Cup 2011. In a pool match against Canada (02/10/2011), he scored a resounding quadruple, and then won the trophy final against France (8 -7, 23/10/2011). But trapped by his alcoholism problems, the player turned to controversy and even stopped his career. Hoping to revive himself by signing two seasons at Clermont in 2014. Unsuccessful. After 21 games played, just 3 tries scored and a brawl in a bar in Auvergne, the fearsome child of New Zealand rugby terminated his contract in May 2015 to return home.
Piri Weepu (Oyonnax, 2015-2016)
The all black scrum half, world champion in 2011, had already lost his luster by the time he arrived in Ain. Overshadowed in the land of the long white cloud by the outbreak of Aaron Smith, Weepu went into exile in England in 2014. His shield partially restored, he sets himself a challenge: to help Oyonnax, who has just qualified for the European Cup. , to grow a little more. Lost bet: Oyomen will go down at the end of the 2015-2016 season, Weepu, who arrived overweight, will spend more time in the infirmary than on the pitch. The story would end with a sacking in January 2016 following tensions with the club’s coach Johann Authier.
Quade Cooper (Toulon, 2015-2016)
In the same year, RC Toulon welcomes another star of the oval planet: the very capricious Quade Cooper. the golden boy The Australian, revealed to the world in 2011 by winning the Tri-Nations with his national team and the Super Rugby with the Queensland Reds in Melbourne, wants to revive after a 2015 World Cup lived in the shoes of a substitute . Toulon is the ideal place for him – Bernard Laporte’s winning machine have just won their third European Cup in a row and are looking for a successor to Jonny Wilkinson. Challenge too tall for Cooper. Convincing in their debut, New Varois gradually lost the confidence of the squad and ended their season with a meager record of 15 games played for only 2 tests. The transplant did not take place, and the worker even asked to be released from his second year contract to return home. The Mayol Stadium will never have had the chance to see the Australian’s undeniable attacking talent in action.
Ayumu Goromaru (Toulon, 2016-2017)
Any rugby lover knows Ayumu Goromaru. At the 2015 Rugby World Cup, he led Japan to victory against South Africa (32-24, group stage, 19/09/15). The full-back scored 24 points in a game that remains the greatest rugby feat in Japan’s history. After this successful competition, Goromaru becomes a hero in his country. When he signed with RCT a year later, it was with star status. A Japanese TV crew even follows him to the Rade. Unfortunately, his French adventure will not be so glorious: 5 small games in all competitions and notably, 0 points scored for the Japanese rugby sniper. Result, a premature exit after a short year in the Top 14.
Julian Savea (Toulon, 2018-2020)
When Savea signs with the RCT, it is a human bomb that is announced in the Rade. What we easily compared to the legend Jonah Lomu stacked the essays under the black robe. Although the leading Test scorer at the 2015 World Cup (8 hits) then met the worst first innings of his career, his signing was unexpected for an RCT struggling to return to the top of the national scene But the colossus won’t change the game. Savea never settled into his new life at the Var, and it shows on the pitch: in two seasons, he scored just 7 tries in 32 games. Too little, for a player of his position. He will return to New Zealand in May 2020 and will have bitter memories of his Toulon experience.