We are just weeks away from the start of the second season of the URC. Across the summer, teams have been busy giving themselves the best chance of winning it all in 2022/23. This is every URC teams best signing.
Benetton- Marcus Watson
After an impressive season from Benetton, they will know that a few good additions could lead them even closer to the top.
One of the signings which should bolster that attack is Marcus Watson. The Englishman has been a mainstay of the London Wasps side of the last five years after a spell with Newcastle. The brother of Leicester Tigers Anthony Watson, Marcus played 35 times for the England sevens and it shows how dangerous he can be in attack for Benetton.
In a somewhat quiet summer for the Bulls, the addition of Sbu Nkosi is a massive grab from rival Sharks. The 26 year old has played 49 times for Sharks as well as being capped by South Africa 16 times at the age of 26.
Nkosi is the perfect replacement for the outgoing Madosh Tabwe. Nkosi still has a huge amount to grow and develop and could be one of the worlds best wingers over the next few years.
Cardiff Blues- Taulupe Faletau
After a very poor season from Cardiff, they have been very busy in the summer with signings like Liam Williams, Lopeti Timani and Thomas Young. But the teams best addition has to be 91 capped Welsh international Taulupe Faletau.
The Welsh legend has not had the best time in club rugby, struggling with injury during his time with Bath. It is a great move in general for Welsh rugby, as international stars like Dan Biggar, Louis Rees-Zammitt and Nick Tompkins are all playing their club rugby outside of Wales.
For Cardiff, it gives them a big ball carrier who will partner with international teammates Josh Navidi, James Botham and Ellis Jenkins. The issue for Cardiff will be whether Faletau can stay healthy. If he can, this could be the sort of signing which bolsters Cardiff up towards the top eight.
Connacht- Adam Byrne
Connacht have had a good not great summer, but adding Adam Byrne could turn out to be a massive move. The 28 year old broke through the ranks at Leinster at the age of 18 when he became the youngest player to play for Leinster. He has since appeared 66 times for Leinster, scoring 24 tries in that time.
After just a single cap for Ireland in 2017, Byrne has struggled with serious injuries over the last few years. He played nine times for Leinster in the 2021/22 season as well as making his Barbarians debut. Byrne was a key member of the Leinster squad who performed well in South Africa last season without any key internationals.
With a change of scenery and promotion to a starting place, there is no reason why Byrne can’t return to his best form with Connacht.
Dragons- Rob Evans
After a pretty horrendous season from the Dragons, they have made some good moves in the summer. The best of those has to be Rob Evans. The 30 year old made his Scarlets debut in 2013, running out for Wales two years later. Since then, he has become one of the most consistent Welsh props, playing more than 150 times for the Scarlets despite also playing for Wales 39 times.
A strong scrummager, Evans is coming of the back of a good season with the Scarlets, scoring four tries in his elevens games. Having been displaced by Wyn Jones and Samson Lee, Evans played more of a bench role in 2021/22, but should be one of the starters for the Dragons in the upcoming season.
Evans can help the Dragons sure up their shaky scrum, as well as being a great role model for young Wales international Leon Brown.
Edinburgh- Sam Skinner
After a great season, losing Magnus Bradbury is a big loss to Edinburgh, but they have brought in Sam Skinner as a more than reasonable replacement. Born in Exeter, Skinner worked his way up through the ranks to make his Chiefs debut in 2014 and was one of the teams standout players in the 2018 season.
This earned him international caps, but with Scotland through his father, despite playing in the 2015 World Rugby Under 20 Championship for England. Skinner has never really established himself as a start in the Scotland squad, although he did start the second test of the teams tour of Argentina, the only game in that tour Scotland won.
The versatile forward has been ever present in the Chiefs side that won the Premiership and Champions Cup in 2020. Having started 10 games for Exeter this season, there is no reason why Skinner cannot continue this form as he plays his club rugby in Scotland for the first time.
Glasgow Warriors- Sione Vailanu
With the chaos currently going on at Worcester, Glasgow have taken advantage by signing massive number 8 Sione Vailanu. The Tongan born international started his rugby in Japan and this is where he caught the attention of Saracens Academy Director Donald Barrell. It led to Vailanu signing for Saracens in January of 2018.
He impressed so much that Vailanu was signed by London Wasps as the replacement for Nathan Hughes in 2019. After two years with Wasps, Vailanu was a massive signing for Worcester Warriors.
Despite a pretty poor season for Worcester, Vailanu still showed his incredible ball carrying ability with some monster runs that cut through defences. A key part of the Worcester side, Vailanu became a fan favourite in his one season with Worcester and he will surely be the same in Glasgow.
Leinster- Charlie Ngatai
I don’t think anyone was expecting Leinster to finish last season trophyless. But after a disappointing end to the season, they have not been quiet in the summer. Having lost Adam Byrne, they have added the experienced Charlie Ngatai.
While the one capped New Zealand international will likely not be a starter, he will provide excellent experience to the backline at the age of 32. A great signing by Leinster.
Lions- Andries Coetzee
It has been a difficult summer for Lions as they have lost a lot of talent. But one of the few good points is the addition of Andries Coetzee. This will be Coetzee’s second spell with the team having played for the Lions from 2012-2020.
Having played 13 times for South Africa, Coetzee brings a level of international experience and is coming off the back of a good season with Benetton as they surprised a few teams. It is a good addition for the Lions in a difficult summer.
Munster- Malakai Fekitoa
Losing Damian de Allende could have been a huge loss for Leinster, but they have added another world class centre to replace him. Fekitoa struggled to establish himself in his time in New Zealand, playing 24 times for the All Blacks before moving to Toulon in 2017.
Since then, Fekitoa’s fast feet and powerful running has made him a superstar in Europe and he always performed well when he was playing for Wasps over the last few years. It is a great pickup for Munster.
One of the signings that could be crucial over the next few years is young Gly-Half Jack Walsh. Born in Florida, Walsh came through the ranks of the Waratahs academy before signing for Exeter in 2020.
Having never really gotten his chance at 10, Walsh has decided to move to the Ospreys for a better contract and more playing time. Learning under the incredibly experienced pair of Gareth Anscombe and Stephen Myler, this could be a great signing for the Ospreys in the future.
Scarlets- Vaea Fifita
After a quiet summer, the Scarlets will be looking for former All Black Vaea Fifita to have a big season in Wales. The 6ft 5in lock played eleven times for New Zealand before moving to Wasps in 2021.
After a good season with the Coventry based team, Fifita will be a great addition for Scarlets and he can form a brilliant second row partnership with Tongan international Sam Lousi.
Sharks- Eben Etzebeth
One of the best signings of the summer, Eben Etzebeth going to the Sharks shows that they are starting to bring Springbok talent back to South African club rugby after the formation of the URC.
The massive lock is one of the best players in the world and had another brilliant summer with South Africa where be passed the 100 cap mark. Sharks fans will worry about his injury worries during club rugby which was openly criticised by Toulon’s president. Despite this, Etzebeth is one of the best signings of the summer and should make the Sharks one of the title favourites.
Stormers- Joseph Dweba
Despite a few critics, Joseph Dweba has been good in a starting role with the Springboks this summer, he can just be made to look worse because of the performances of Malcolm Marx.
But Dweba is certainly a big signing for the Stormers as he Is another Springbok returning from a European side. The hooker is only 26 years old and having only made his Springboks debut in 2021, there is still a lot more to see from Dweba.
Ulster- Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
Another URC signing from Wasps, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen did not really live up to his full potential with Wasps. The former All Black did play 61 times for Wasps in his time with the side, but never really showed everything he could do.
At his best, Toomaga-Allen is a very good ball carrier and a solid scrummager. He adds a lot of stability to the Ulster front row.
Zebre- Kobus van Wyk
Having struggled to establish himself with Leicester, Kobus van Wyk will hope to get back to his best with Zebre. After finishing bottom of the URC in 2022, adding van Wyk should help their attack as the Springbok is a try scoring threat.
There may be some rustiness from van Wyk as he has not played much rugby over the last few years, but will be great once he gets going.