The curious case of Johan Goosen
It has been labelled one of the sorriest transf er sagas in modern
August 2016 – earning his seventh cap and his first since November 2014. He would end up playing six more times for them before the year was out.
In October that year, Goosen was also named as the best player of the Top
14’s 2015-16 season, beating Racing team-mate Dan Carter, and Toulon’s Fijian wing Josua Tuisova to the title.
Yet these career-high moments are not what he has become famous for
– or should that be infamous. It was his actions in mid-December 2016 when he announced he was retiring from rugby, and thus leaving Racing, aged just 24. He was quitting the game, it was announced, so he could become a commercial director at a saddle-horse stud farm back home in Bloemfontein
It was something of an open secret in France that Goosen wanted out of his freshly-signed deal, but few could have predicted he’d step away from the game of rugby entirely to escape it.
At the time Racing’s president Jacky Lorenzetti publicly said: “We regret that so obviously talented a young player has been misguided and abandoned professional rugby.
“Racing 92 reserves the right for a judicial follow-up to both Johan Goosen and those who advise him.”
How long did the exile from rugby last? By February 2018, French publications reported that a deal had been done between Racing and Montpellier, the latter club – owned by mega-wealthy Mohed Altrad – paying €1.5m (£1.3m) to secure Goosen’s services for the following season.
In March 2018, he was in training kit, running around with the Cheetahs of Bloemfontein – where he had previously played 27 times in Super Rugby – with the franchise announcing that he would train with them until June.
By April, Goosen played for them in a Guinness Pro14 fixture against Munster.