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French Top 14 Weekly Round Up: World Cup Winners Set To Join Next Season?

French Top 14 Weekly Round Up: World Cup Winners Set To Join Next Season?

A week is a long time in the Top 14. Here is a look at some of the biggest developments in the league from the past week.

Sep 23, 2022 by RugbyPass
French Top 14 Weekly Round Up: World Cup Winners Set To Join Next Season?

A week is a long time in the Top 14, whether it is major signings being announced, discipline being handed out or injury updates the league never stops. 

Here, we look at some of the biggest developments in the league from the past week. 

Racing 92 On The Verge Of Splash Signing 

The Parisians have been in news a lot recently, primarily for off-the-field developments, rather than their on-field exploits. 

Starting with the devastating health-related retirement of star center Virimi Vakatawa, who has seen his career cruelly cut short due to a heart condition. 

Then, there was the signing of former England flyer Christian Wade, who has joined the club following an impressive showing for Racing’s 7s team. 

Now in an interesting turn of events, the man who gave Wade his sole England cap looks set to become his new head coach, should he remain with the club next season. 

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster is reported to be heading to Paris as the next head coach of Racing in a big money move. Should the reports be correct, then Lancaster, who has had an immensely successful run with the Irish giants, would become a head coach for the first time since his departure from the England set up.

La Rochelle Director Of Rugby Suspended

La Rochelle enters Round 4 as the last remaining undefeated side, but does so without its head coach, Ronan O’Gara. 

Regarded as one of the hottest coaching commodities in the world game, O’Gara’s suspension comes on the back of his side’s 23-20 victory over Lyon in Round 1. 

Despite the win, O’Gara found himself having an altercation with a match official. 

According the Top 14 organizers LNR, O’Gara’s actions were "the higher degree of the scale.” 

As such, he has been handed a six-week touchline ban, meaning he will not be involved with his side on gamedays for their next six fixtures. 

The LNR statement went on explain why the punishment was so severe.

"After taking into account the aggravating circumstance (his disciplinary record), the penalty was increased by two weeks. After taking into account the mitigating circumstances (acknowledgment of guilt, conduct before and during the hearing), the sanction was reduced by two weeks." 

Just how this will affect the reigning European champions remains to be seen. It is however a blemish on an otherwise stellar coaching career for the former Munster and Ireland legend.

ASM Clermont On The Hunt For World Cup Winning Springbok

Arguably the world’s best hooker at the present moment, 50 test cap and World Cup winner Malcolm Marx would be at the top of just about every club's wish list. 

Out of contract at the end of the 2023 season, Marx is rumored to be on his way to the Top 14. 

According to French publication "Midi Olympique," Marx has become the key target of a leading Top 14 club. 

At the moment, the reporting is that ASM Clermont is leading the way in the sweepstakes for Marx’s signature and has made signing a world-class hooker a priority. 

At 27 years old, Marx is just entering his prime and looks set to play a key role for the Boks at the 2023 in France. 

It would now appear his trip to France in 2023 will be longer than initially planned.  

All Black Superstar Set To Join Top 14 In 2023

All Blacks play-making extraordinaire Beauden Barrett reportedly is close to signing a deal that will see him play in the Top 14 next season. 

Currently contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Barrett is set to follow in the footsteps of fellow All Black legend Dan Carter by joining Racing 92. 

The Parisian club reportedly is the leader in the race to land Barrett’s signature, as well as that of French International fly-half Matthieu Jalibert. 

Several other high profile All Blacks are out of contract after the World Cup, including Barrett’s longtime halfback partner Aaron Smith, tighthead prop Nepo Laulala, legendary secondrow duo Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, as well current fly-half incumbent Richie Mo’Unga. 

A mass exodus of the southern hemisphere’s premier talent after the game’s global showpiece is nothing new, but the quality of players potentially set to leave the All Blacks this time around is notable.  

Former French Head Coach Facing Jail Time 

Former French head coach and all-round powerful rugby figure Bernard Laporte is facing the wrath of French prosecutors this week. 

Prosecutors have accused Laporte of showing favoritism in awarding the French national shirt sponsorship to his close friend Mohed Altrad. 

The French Syrian billionaire owner of Top 14-winning Montpellier also has a six-year sponsorship deal in place with the All Blacks. 

As the trial nears a close, prosecutors have said they are seeking a three-year sentence for Laporte, one of which will be behind bars with two years of probation. 

Turning their attention towards Altrad, the prosecutors have suggested the same sentence be applied to the billionaire. 

A key focus in this case has been the two men’s friendship and business dealings over the year. 

Most notable among these dealings was the signing of a €1.8-million-euro deal, which made his eponymous firm the first sponsor to appear on the French national team's jerseys. 

The trial itself closed Sept. 22, and such more information will be available in due course.

 Written by Philip Bendon