Euro Scene – French Top 14 – Top Transfers from New Zealand
With the richest club rugby competition commencing in less than a fortnight, we have a look at the most notable transfers to the French premier division from New Zealand shores.
Lauchie Munro – Blues to Bordeaux- Begles
The multi-talented Aucklander moves to the south-west of France after six years of first class rugby for Auckland and Northland. The 25 year old, one of the shining lights of a stuttering Blues campaign this season, has been convinced to travel north to ply his trade with former French hooker and now Bordeaux coach, Raphael Ibanez. Bordeaux have acquired an accomplished player who is comfortable at any position outside of scrum-half and, though playing mostly at wing this season, has developed into a quality Super Rugby player.
Daniel Kirkpatrick – Hurricanes to Castres Olympic
Napier born fly-half Kirkpatrick, at the age of only 23, joins a French club that has been decorated with a number of former All Black greats: Frank Bunce, Kees Meeuws and Gary Whetton have all graced the Stade Pierre-Antoine, which Castres call their home. Flanked by Top 14 Heavy weights Toulouse and Perpignan, the young Kirkpatrick is immersed in a South of France rugby cauldron that will undoubtedly test his talent.
Benson Stanley – Blues to Clermont Auvergne
The thrice capped All Black leaves the Blues after five solid years at the heart of the New Zealand franchise’s midfield. Although born in NSW, 27 year old Stanley is a product of Auckland Grammar and has represented Auckland in the provincial championship since 2003. The hard hitting centre moves to the 2010 Top 14 champions, coached by New Zealander Vern Cotter, and joins a roster including former Chiefs Sitiveni Sivivatu, Kevin Senio and Regan King.
Sona Taumalolo – Chiefs to Perpignan
Tongan international prop Taumalolo gained cult status during the Chiefs’ championship winning run during the recent Super 15 season. After emmigrating to New Zealand in 2001, the powerful loose- head was selected for Hawkes Bay for the 2005 competition. Strong showings forced selection for the Chiefs in 2009 where he gained a championship medal in this year’s triumph. Taumalolo leaves a big gap in the hearts and minds of Chiefs supporters; his bullocking runs, touchline bursts and try scoring prowess will be missed.
Rudolffe Wulf – Blues to Toulon
An All Black in 2008, Rudi Wulf rejoins Toulon for the second time after returning home from a two year stint in 2011. The gifted Samoan is included in a raft of new players at the Stade Mayol where big-spending President Mourad Boudjellal and veteran French coach Bernard Laporte look to win the Top 14 after narrowly losing last term to Toulouse. Wulf competes for a place amongst some of the biggest names in world rugby which include New Zealand’s Carl Hayman and Chris Masoe, Andrew Sheridan, Simon Shaw, Jonny Wilkinson and Delon Armitage from England, Bakkies Botha and Joe Van Nierkirk of South Africa, Welsh loose-head Gethin Jenkins, Aussies Matt Giteau and Luke Rooney and of course French backs Frederic Michalak, Mathieu Bastareaud and Maxime Mermoz. With a star studded team in Toulon, Rudi Wulf should expect to pick up a winners medal come June next year.