‘SA Barbarians’ in French Top 14?

2015-06-17 13:12
Jake White (AP)

Cape Town - Following the announcement of more South African signings at Montpellier, French rugby enthusiasts could perhaps be forgiven if they mistake the club for a 'South African Barbarians' team in the 2015/16 season.

The team is coached by former Springbok coach Jake White, who took over from Fabien Galthie late last year.

White has wasted no time in bringing in a large South African contingent, which grew larger on Wednesday when Montpellier confirmed the signing of Springbok brothers, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, from the Sharks.

The brothers will join their new team after this year's Rugby World Cup.

They will join a large South African contingent at the ambitious Top 14 club, which was ironically once renowned for producing numerous talented French players.

Recent South African signings there include Pierre Spies (No 8, Bulls), Bees Roux (prop, Oyonnax), Schalk van der Merwe (Lions, prop), Demetri Catrakilis (Stormers, flyhalf), Jacques du Plessis (Bulls, loose forward/lock), Cameron Wright (Sharks, scrumhalf/flyhalf), Wiaan Liebenberg (Bulls, loose forward) and Paul Willemse (Grenoble, lock).

Former Lions prop Jacobie Adriaanse will also join Montpellier for a short stint until after the Rugby World Cup (October 31).

Shaun Sowerby is White's assistant coach, while Pat Cilliers (prop) and Robert Ebersohn (centre) already ply their trade there.

White is reportedly also eager to lure ex-Sharks hooker Craig Burden to Montpellier. The 30-year-old currently plays for Toulon in France.

Apart from luring several South Africans, White also drafted in the Brumbies duo of scrumhalf Nic White and fullback Jesse Mogg - players he had coached during his time in charge of the Australian Super Rugby outfit.

In fact, so large is the foreign influence at Montpellier that from next season there will be just five home grown players in their squad - Francois Trinh-Duc, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Pierre Berard, Kelian Galletier and Ilian Perraux.

Ambitious club president Mohed Altrad has reportedly made it clear that he will happily pay the fines for failing to meet the league's minimum requirement on French-produced players (JIFF).

With so many foreigners in the French Top 14, it is perhaps no surprise that their national team has been nothing short of woeful in the last number of years...


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