Pro14 Bleeding Contracts

 

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come in rugby, however, the immediate effect thereof is becoming very evident when you go through the current list of players who are currently set to join and leave the Guinness PRO14 after the 2019-20 campaign.

However, what is important to notice is the number of players who are being released from their contracts. A total of 22 players were released who is not yet signed elsewhere. A total of 35 new signings were announced to the 51 players set to leave their current clubs.

Benetton

Italian international scrum-half Callum Braley is the headline signing for Benetton, while Joaquin Riera's two-year contract has generated quite the buzz. Heading out of the club, 22-year-old fly-half Antonio Rizzi is off to rivals Zebre.

In: Callum Braley - from Gloucester Rugby, Niccolo Cannone - from Padova, Joaquin Riera - from Padova, Luca Petrozzi - from San Dona, Edoardo Padovani - from Zebre

Out: Giuseppe Di Stefano - to Fiamme Oro, Antonio Rizzi - to Zebre.

Cardiff Blues

It's been relatively quiet in Cardiff, but the arrival of lock Cory Hill from the Dragons is something of a coup. Wales U20s fly-half Luke Scully moves across from Premiership side Worcester Warriors.

In: Luke Scully - from Worcester Warriors, Cory Hill - from Dragons. 

Connacht

Connacht will wave goodbye to an Antipodean duo that has made a huge impact at the Sportsground during their tenures in Galway. Dynamic back-rower Colby Fainga’a has consistently been one of Connacht’s best players since joining from the Melbourne Rebels in 2018 and he will head to the Top 14 to play for Lyon, while Kiwi hooker Tom McCartney – part of the title-winning side in 2015-16 – will hang up his rugby boots. Moving the other way, Connacht has snapped up a pair of exciting youngsters from both Leinster and Munster.

In: Sammy Arnold - from Munster, Jack Aungier - from Leinster, Oisin Dowling - from Leinster, Conor Oliver - from Munster.

Out: Colby Fainga'a – to Lyon, Tom McCartney – retiring, Robin Copeland - to Soyaux Angouleme.

Dragons

The Dragons have focussed on preserving what they already have so far, with a plethora of players signing new contracts. Cory Hill and Tyler Morgan are their only significant departures.

Out: Cory Hill - to Cardiff Blues, Tyler Morgan - to Scarlets, Jacob Botica - released, Nic Cudd - released, Rhys Lawrence - released, James Sheekey - released.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is currently flying high in Conference B but will part ways with at least eight players at the end of the current campaign. The most high-profile of these are centre Matt Scott, who will head to Leicester Tigers, and veteran Scotland internationals John Barclay and Dougie Fife – both being released at the end of their current contracts. Jono Lance is, to date, the most high-profile signing, while Lee Roy Atafilo and Matt Gordon make the step up from the English Championship.

In: Lee Roy Atalifo - from Jersey Reds, Jono Lance - from Worcester Warriors, Matt Gordon - from London Scottish.

Out: Pietro Ceccarelli – to Brive, John Barclay – released, Jason Baggott – released, Cameron Fenton – released, Dougie Fife – released, Simon Hickey – released, Matt Scott – to Leicester Tigers, Sam Thomson – released.

Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors will say goodbye to a club legend for the second time after announcing that record try-scorer DTH van der Merwe will leave at the end of the season. The flying Canadian winger helped Glasgow lift the PRO12 title during an initial six-year spell in Scotland before rejoining the Warriors in 2018 and scored 54 tries in 123 appearances in total. Star lock Jonny Gray will also depart for English Premiership side Exeter Chiefs, although his older brother Richie is at least joining from Toulouse.

In: Richie Gray - from Toulouse, Enrique Pieretto - from Exeter Chiefs.

Out: Jonny Gray – to Exeter Chiefs, Cameron Henderson – to Leicester Tigers, Nick Frisby – released, Siua Halanukonuka – released, DTH van der Merwe – released, Rory Hughes - released, Matt Smith - released, Callum Gibbins - released, Ruaridh Jackson - retiring, Tim Swinson - retiring.

Isuzu Southern Kings

The Kings have done just one piece of business so far, with experienced centre Howard Mnisi heading for the exit.

Out: Howard Mnisi - to Toyota Cheetahs

Leinster

Leinster announced that after 13 years at the RDS Arena, one-club man Fergus McFadden will retire at the end of the season – having won a slew of trophies in blue and earned 34 Ireland caps.

Out: Jack Aungier - to Connacht, Jack Aungier - to Connacht, Roman Salanoa - to Munster, Fergus McFadden - retiring.

Munster

Munster fans have reason to be excited for next season, with World Cup winners Damian de Allende and R G Snyman joining from Japan. Matt Gallagher is a coup from Saracens, although the loss of Arno Botha is far from ideal.

In: Damian de Allende - from Panasonic Wild Knights, Matt Gallagher - from Saracens, R G Snyman - from Honda Heat, Roman Salanoa - from Leinster.

Out: Arno Botha - to Bulls, Sammy Arnold - to Connacht, Conor Oliver - to Connacht.

Ospreys

There's no doubting the big move in Swansea, with Wales and Lions scrum-half Rhys Webb rejoining the Guinness PRO14. Wales legend James Hook will retire at the age of 34 following a 14-year professional career that also saw him tour with the Lions in 2009. The fly-half/full-back plans to release a series of rugby books for children later this year, while the ‘Beast from the East’ – Moldovan tighthead prop Gheorghe Gajion – will also leave Ospreys, for French side Aurillac.

In: Rhys Webb - from Bath, Mat Protheroe - from Bristol Bears, Nicky Thomas - from Bristol Bears, Rhys Davies - from Bath.

Out: James Hook – retiring, Gheorghe Gajion – to Aurillac.

Scarlets

Scarlets have lost star centre Hadleigh Parkes while Corey Baldwin will join Warriors star Jonny Gray in heading from the PRO14 to Sandy Park. On his way in is exciting fly-half Sam Costelow from Leicester Tigers, while Tyler Morgan will add instant quality to the centres.

In: Sam Costelow - from Leicester Tigers, Tyler Morgan - from Dragons.

Out: Corey Baldwin – to Exeter Chiefs, Hadleigh Parkes - to Panasonic Wild Knights, Morgan Williams - released, Kieron Fonotia - released, Jonathan Evans - released, Tom James - retired.

Toyota Cheetahs

Francois Steyn's impending arrival to the Guinness PRO14 might just be the most exciting move ahead of next season. The two-time World Cup winner joins from Montpellier, while the likes of Marcell Muller and Howard Mnisi add greater depth to a talented squad. On the flip side, powerful hooker Joseph Dweba has lit up both the Currie Cup and the PRO14 with Cheetahs this season – showing an uncanny nose for the try-line – and will head to the Top 14 to join Bordeaux-Bègles for the 2020-21 campaign.

In: Francois Steyn - from Montpellier, George Cronje - from Clermont Auvergne, Marcell Muller - from Montpellier, Ian Groenewald - from Griquas, Jeandre Rudolph - from Pumas, Howard Mnisi - from Isuzu Southern Kings.

Out: Joseph Dweba – to Bordeaux-Bègles, Walt Steenkamp - to Bulls, Jasper Wiese - released.

Ulster

They might not be eye-catching signings but Ulster has certainly been savvy so far, snapping up a pair of veterans to increase squad depth. Fly-half Ian Madigan returns to the PRO14 for the first time in four years after stints in both France and England, while New Zealand scrum-half Mathewson played 27 times for Munster.

In: Ian Madigan - from Bristol Bears, Alby Mathewson - unattached

Out: Angus Kernohan - released, Clive Ross - released.

Zebre Rugby

Antonio Rizzi will hope to hit the ground running and make good of his potential when he makes the move to Zebre next season.

In: Antonio Rizzi - from Benetton.

Out: Edoardo Padovani - to Benetton