Heineken Cup Transfers 2013
The 24 clubs who have their sights set on Heineken Cup success in 2013/14 have been active in the player transfer market with a number of high-profile movers preparing to make a mark when the world’s most competitive club rugby tournament kicks off in October.
Northampton Saints have arguably led the way among the English Heineken Cup clubs with George North, Alex Corbisiero and Kahn Fotuali’i signing on the dotted line from Scarlets, London Irish and Ospreys respectively. Saracens have also been active in the market with James Johnston (Harlequins) and Billy Vunipola (London Wasps) listed among the new recruits.Last season’s Aviva Premiership champions, Leicester Tigers, have offset the departures of the likes of Martin Castrogiovanni to Toulon and of George Ford to Bath Rugby, as well as the retirement of Geordan Murphy, by adding Ryan Lamb (Northampton Saints), Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter Chiefs) and the Perpignan pair, David Mélé and Jerome Schuster to their ranks.Not surprisingly, the main activity to date has taken place in France with Racing Metro 92 swelling their roster with star players such as Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Jonny Sexton (Leinster Rugby), Dan Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), Soane Tonga’huia and Brian Mujati (both Northampton Saints), and the reigning Top 14 champions, Castres Olympique, have signed Richie Gray from Sale Sharks.
The 2013 Heineken Cup champions, Toulon, have boosted an already powerful squad by signing Bryan Habana (Stormers), Drew Mitchell (Waratahs), Michael Claassens (Bath Rugby), Martin Castrogiovanni and All Blacks legend Ali Williams while Montpellier will surely challenge once again for the tournament knockout stage with the likes of Jim Hamilton (Gloucester Rugby), René Ranger (Auckland Blues), Wynand Olivier (Blue Bulls) and Nicolas Mas (Perpignan) on board.
The return of Gethin Jenkins after a season in Toulon, along with Matthew Rees’s move from the Scarlets, comes as major boost to the Cardiff Blues, while John Barclay’s switch from Glasgow Warriors to the Scarlets will strengthen the club’s back row options. In Ireland, Leinster Rugby have hogged the headlines by signing Zane Kirchner and Mike McCarthy from the Blue Bulls and Connacht Rugby respectively while in Scotland, Richie Vernon has signed for Glasgow Warriors from Sale Sharks and Jack Cuthbert has moved from Bath Rugby to Edinburgh Rugby.
Who are your favourites for this years competition? Current holders Toulon don’t look like a bad bet, while Northampton have made three huge signings also… Either way it looks like we have one of the most exciting Heineken Cups in years to come ahead of us… Plus we’re pretty sure there’s plenty more signings still to come…