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MX News Update 2024

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The 20 best United Rugby Championship signings of the 2023/24 season: Planet Rugby

As the United Rugby Championship approaches the end of the regular season, we round up the best signings each team has made this campaign.

All sixteen clubs have made some great signings ahead of the 2023/24 season, with several high-profile arrivals in the competition.

We’ve undergone the difficult task of narrowing our list down to just 20 notable signings and have selected a few.

The 20 best URC signings of the 2023/24 season

20 Sean O’Brien – Munster

The defending champions have made a few key additions to their squad, some of which are further down our list, but luring Sean O’Brien back to Ireland was a masterstroke.

Although he played mainly in the centers for Connacht and Exeter Chiefs, he was a breath of fresh air on the wing for Munster. He scored five times for the Irish province while excelling in defence.

19 Sebastian de Klerk – Bulls

The Pumas have always had underrated stars in their ranks, and Sebastian de Klerk is a fantastic example of this.

Jake White signed the flyer ahead of the new season, adding blistering pace to his ranks, and although he has played second fiddle to the likes of Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie for large parts of the season, he has never failed to impress. got the chance.

He was seen as an asset to boost the depth of the squad, but went on to play 16 of the Bulls’ 21 matches in the URC and Investec Champions Cup, scoring five tries. A signing that certainly exceeded expectations.

18 Siya Masuku – Sharks

A signing that has paid off more in the Challenge Cup than the URC, but despite a slow start to his time with the Sharks, Siya Masuku is proving to be a great addition to the Durban side.

He has produced several Man of the Match performances and might have been higher on our list had he been backed earlier this season. The ex-Cheetahs lynchpin still has plenty of potential to thrive at the Sharks, and in time we could look back on this signing as a masterstroke – especially if the Sharks win the Challenge Cup.

17 James Ratti – Ospreys

James Ratti joined from Welsh rivals Cardiff having already built a strong reputation as an uncompromising striker, which he has lived up to this season.

The hard-working forward averages double figures in both carries and tackles in the URC and has been a real force in the Ospreys pack.

16 JJ Hanrahan – Connacht

A player of proven quality, JJ Hanrahan quickly returned to life in Ireland and has been a solid addition to the Connacht squad this season.

Despite stiff competition from Jack Carty, Hanrahan has started fourteen of his nineteen appearances since joining Connacht from the Dragons. He is a regular source of points for Peter Wilkins, averaging over 85%.

After shining for Munster, it is no surprise that Hanrahan shone for Connacht, with the only blight being his cruciate ligament injury suffered against the Dragons. Hopefully he recovers quickly to continue his good form in the green jersey next season.

15 Andy Uren-Benetton

The former Bristol Bears scrum-half has been in excellent form for his new side, filling the experienced number nine role, while Dewaldt Duvenage is reducing his minutes as his career draws to a close.

Andy Uren has played a central role in Benetton’s quest for a place in the URC play-offs and has missed just two games for the side since his arrival ahead of the new season.

14 Alex Craig – Scarlet

The Scarlets have made a sharp signing in Gloucester and Scottish workhorse Alex Craig, who has played all but two of the Welsh side’s games this season.

He has added a new dimension to their pack, allowing Vaea Fifita to play in the back row more regularly.

While it has largely been a disappointing season for the Scarlets, Craig has simply kept up his workload, ranking in the top five for tackles and topping attacking ruck entries.

Ranked: The 20 best Premiership signings of the 2023/24 season

13 Henco Venter – Glasgow Warriors

Franco Smith’s Glasgow Warriors have had an excellent season and are looking to finish top of the URC table. Part of their success must be attributed to their smart recruiting.

Back row Henco Venter is one of the signings who come over from the Sharks ahead of the new season. He has fitted in seamlessly with the Warriors’ style of play, and while he hasn’t been a starter week in and week out, he has been extremely effective on both sides of the ball and has barely put a foot wrong all season. Simply a hard-working, loose attacker.

12 Ewan Ashman – Edinburgh

Although Ewan Ashman’s move from Sale Sharks to Edinburgh was not cheap for the club and the Scottish Rugby Union, it was a necessity for the future for both parties and he has already started to prove his worth.

He was incredibly accurate in the lineouts, with an average success rate of around 90% with his throws, and has scored four tries in the URC.

11 Mpilo Gumede – Bulls

At the Sharks, Mpilo Guemede was tipped for a bright future but struggled to overcome stiff competition and secure regular minutes. However, that has all changed at the Bulls, with head coach White willing to rotate his squad regularly, and Gumede has returned the favor with several standout performances. His form has not gone unnoticed as he earned an invite to the Springboks alignment camps.

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10 Ben Loader – Stormers

A somewhat surprising move as the Stormers signed England back Ben Loader following the demise of London Irish, but one that has certainly paid off for John Dobson’s side.

Loader has softened the blow of Seabelo Senatla’s long-term injury, while his ability to play in the centers has also been crucial for the side.

He quickly settled into life in Cape Town and made four attempts at the URC.

9 Oli Jager – Munster

The only mid-season move on our list, but one that has been hugely beneficial this season and could be even more beneficial in the future.

Oli Jager has been a cornerstone of the Munster srum since his arrival, providing a fantastic double whammy in the front row along with veteran Stephen Archer and Roman Salanoa.

The former Crusaders forward has also earned his Test debut for Ireland since arriving from New Zealand.

8 Kyle Rowe – Glasgow Warriors

Another ex-London Irish star makes our list after claiming several places in the top 20 Premiership signings as Kyle Rowe has quickly made an impact at the Glasgow Warriors.

The fleet-footed outside back has been a real hit for the Warriors, scoring ten tries in the URC and the Premier League, and has caused all kinds of problems for opposition defenses in both competitions.

7 Akker van der Merwe – Stieren

The Bulls front row needed an injection of experience and quality ahead of the new season and they certainly got it, especially with the recruitment of Springbok hooker Akker van der Merwe.

After a largely successful spell with Premiership team the Sale Sharks, Van der Merwe has continued that form on his return to Gauteng. Although he is occasionally guilty of the lineout, he boasts a more than respectable 89% success rate on the set piece.

He has also scored nine tries in the URC and Champions Cup and has done extremely well alongside form hooker Johan Grobbelaar.

6 Warrick Gelant – Stormers

After a rather disappointing spell at French club Racing 92, Warrick Gelant has returned to his usually high standards on his return to the Stormers.

The Springbok full-back is back to producing quality performances for the Cape Town side. This season he has again created and scored tries for the Stormers, while also ticking all the key boxes of a modern full-back.

5 Tinus de Beer – Cardiff

Into the top five, and there isn’t much difference between the best of the bunch, with Cardiff’s fantastic number ten Tinus de Beer kicking off the top signings.

Few spectators outside South Africa will have heard of the former Bulls, Griquas and Pumas fly-half, but he is now clearly a fan favorite at Cardiff Arms Park.

His influence in the Cardiff side goes beyond his 108 points, providing a calming presence, an attacking outlet and astute game management.

4 Ben Healy – Edinburgh

Another fly-half is claiming a place in the top five, and rightly so, as Ben Healy has gone from strength to strength since arriving in the Scottish capital from Munster ahead of the new season.

He has repeated his form for Munster after helping the side win the URC title and has kept Edinburgh in the running for a place in the play-offs.

He tops the scoring charts in the URC and has achieved an excellent success rate of 84% off the tee.

3 Willie Le Roux – Bulls

The more he is written off, the more he proves the doubters wrong as Springboks veteran Willie Le Roux has impressed again since joining the Bulls from Japanese side Toyota Verblitz.

Le Roux has taken the Bulls’ attacking potential a few steps further and has connected excellently with fellow Boks Moodie and Arendse.

2 Wilco Louw – Bulls

White recruited really well in the off-season, and another player to feature for the Pretoria side is Bok Wilco Louw, who joined from Premier League club Harlequins.

Louw, together with Gerhard Steenekamp and Grobbelaar, was a driving force in the front row of the transformed Bulls. Last season the Bulls often flattered to deceive and were ranked ninth overall in the URC, but they have flipped the script, sitting third this campaign and having won a whopping 26 penalties on set piece.

The tighthead prop has played a huge role in this upturn in form on the set, and recruiting an experienced and high-quality player like Louw has had a knock-on effect on the performance and growth of the other front rower.

1 Alex Nankivell – Munster

After parting ways with title-winning center Malakai Fekitoa at the end of last season, Munster were looking for their new star midfielder and recruited a star from New Zealand in Alex Nankivell.

Nankivell flew somewhat under the radar for the Chiefs despite gaining Moari All Blacks and All Blacks XV caps, but has improved his game a few notches since arriving in the Irish province. He was incredibly elusive with ball in hand and dynamite defensively.

His recruitment has been a superb job by Graham Rowntree and his coaching staff.

READ MORE: Stormers want to waive transfer fee for Springboks’ French move, while Bulls look for goals