The Top 14 gets underway this Friday with everyone gunning to topple Toulon following last season’s triumph.
It was a miserable summer for French rugby with Les Bleus blown away 3-0 on their tour of Australia. Coach Philippe Saint-Andre trained his sights on the domestic top flight as one of the causes of the downturn in the national side’s fortunes, per his comments reported by ESPNScrum:
“England will take three weeks holiday before starting five weeks of technical and physical development," he said. "They will resume their domestic programme in early September. Our internationals resume early August. It is unfortunate, but a high-level player must not play more than 30 matches per season or they will be subject to serious injury."
He then returned to a point he raised during the tour. Foreign players. "Seven or eight years ago there were 70% foreigners in the Premiership. Now there are 70% English. With us, it's the other way round. Suddenly, the pool [to choose from] becomes scarce. There are not currently ten wingers on our list of those available to play for France."
Nevertheless, imports continue to top the big name signings for the new season, with the likes of Toby Flood, Jonathan Davies and Ben Mowen all heading to the Top 14 to earn a crust.
With an assessment of their summer transfer activity and overall strength, here is a prediction of who will end up where at the end of the regular season.