Welsh Rugby transfers in a busy summer of ‘ins and outs’

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Welsh Rugby transfers in a busy summer of 'ins and outs'
CARDIFF, WALES - APRIL 28: Scarlets' John Barclay is tackled by Dragons' Harrison Keddie during the Guinness PRO14 Round 21 Judgement Day VI match between Cardiff Blues and Ospreys at Principality Stadium at Principality Stadium on April 28, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images)

With yet another season of Guinness Pro14 rugby upon us, Robert Rees takes a look at all the Welsh rugby transfers in what has been a busy summer off the field, for the Regions. 

A summer of transfers, fresh Professional Rugby Agreement and 2020 Wales head coach announcement

Project reset‘ and Wayne Pivac announced through the off-season, has been just part of the Welsh rugby story over the last few months. It’s been a momentous summer for the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and for the four regions, whom have all gone about their business to improve and retain their squads.

Welsh Rugby Transfers

Here is the latest news on who is going where, region-by-region, of all the ‘ins and outs’.

Cardiff Blues – Ins

The quietest of the sides [in terms of business], but what they lack for in quantity, they have made up with some decent quality.

Dmitri Arhip. The front row forward remains in Wales, but travels east from the Ospreys. A formidable player at the set piece, his experience will not only benefit the Blues on the pitch, but the younger players around him.

Samu Manoa. The powerful back rower, who can also cover second row joins from French powerhouse Toulon. He’ll be a real danger alongside similar style number eight Nick Williams.

Jason HarriesCapped at Wales age grade and sevens, the former Carmarthen Quins player joins from Edinburgh. He can cover both centre and wing which makes him a key player in a long season where player versatility is valued highly.

Carl Meyer. The South African born Meyer was cut from the Dragons earlier this summer in their clear-out, to the surprise of some fans. He has impressed in his step up from Premiership rugby and looks set for a short term trial at Cardiff.

Cardiff Blues – Outs 

  • Alex Cuthbert. The club stalwart moves on to pastures new as he looks to prove his worth with the Exeter Chiefs.
  • Damien Welch. With the Principality Premiership relegation jeopardy looming, Cross Keys have made the key signing of Welch.
  • Tau Filise. The ‘King of Tonga’ bowed out of his professional rugby career with a Challenge Cup victory at the ripe old age of 41.
  • Sam Warburton. This month brought the sad news upon the rugby world that Sam Warburton was retiring due to the numerous injuries he had accumulated.

Dragons Rugby – Ins

Ross Moriaty is their star signing of the summer. The Wales back rower joins from Gloucester alongside hooker Richard Hibbard.

Bristol trio Jordan Williams, Rhodri Williamsand Ryan Bevington ‘join the evolution’ and will hope to add quality across the park.

Dafydd Howells makes the short journey from Swansea and will add to the depth in the Dragons backline.

Welsh prop Aaron Jarvis makes his Wales return after a spell in France with Clermont Auvergne. He’ll be hoping to continue his good form to possibly impress current Wales coach Warren Gatland and his successor Wayne Pivac. Although aged 32 his Wales opportunity may be one step too far.

Another Wales exile, Rhodri Davies will return home in his bid for regular top class rugby following his latest venture at Greene IPA Championship side, Rotherham.

Huw Taylor makes the journey back across the Severn Bridge from Worcester to bolster their back row and second row depth.

Former Ebbw Vale fly half, Josh Lewis will return to Gwent after a season at Bath. The former Steelman will look at getting his name in the starting fly half position, after it was blown open at the end of last season.

Head coach Bernard Jackman has looked towards the Premiership for his next set of signings. Not in Gwent, but up to Colwyn Bay. RGC 1404 duo Jacob Boticaand Tiaan Loots will head south as they take a punt at professional rugby.

Their other star signing has been the impressive back/second row Samoan international, Brandon Nansen. The big, powerful carrier will add a carrying threat and set piece ability that they have lacked in recent seasons.

Their final signing has come from Ealing Trailfinders. Rhys Lawrence will venture to Wales and add extra depth to their hooker options. He’ll have a great experience to learn off former Wales and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard.

Dragons – Outs

  • The Dragons have had a massive cut from last season’s squad and the following players are yet to be attached to a club. Sam Hobbs, Charlie Davies, Thomas Davies, Keegan Bale, Liam Belcher (a return to Cardiff has been mooted), Robson Blake, Barney Nightingale, Sam Beard, Rhys Buckley and Lloyd Lewis. 
  • Sarel Pretorious has remained within the Pro14 by switching to home nation club, the Southern Kings.
  • Phil Price makes the journey west. The Scarlets have picked up the prop forward to add to their growing squad of talent.
  • Pat Howard makes his way to England as he looks for regular game time. Ealing make him one of their signings as they look to make their way up the Championship table.
  • Scott Andrews will join Neath as they look to keep their Premiership status. As will Luke Garrett. 
  • Adam Hughes is retiring due to a brain injury and will pick up other ventures.
  • Young fly half Angus O’Brien will travel to Parc Y Scarlets as he looks to get more game time in a developed squad.
  • Lock Ashley Sweet will return to home club side Ebbw Vale to aid them in their Premiership battle.
  • Fly half Dorian Jones will leave Gwent for the first time in his rugby career as he heads to France. Angouleme have the pleasure of his talented kicking ability.
  • Carl Meyer as previously discussed has been offered a trial period, reports suggest.

Ospreys – Ins

Welsh winger George North will make his much welcomed return to Wales as he ensures ‘Gatland’s Law’ doesn’t prevent his international career from developing further.

Scott Williams will make one of the shortest transfers in professional rugby. The route from Llanelli to Swansea is a short one, but one that’ll allow him to keep his place in Wales as well as regular rugby.

Aled Davies also makes the route from Llanelli and will add a great scrum half option for Allen Clarke.

Lesley Klim will cross over the border from Doncaster. The Namibian international can cover both centre and wing and could prove invaluable during international windows.

Tom Botha will join from fellow Pro14 side, the Cheetahs and will bolster their tighthead prop department. A much needed move as Arhip departs.

Gheorghe Gajion is a Moldovan international prop and will add a huge set piece presence as well as an excellent work rate around the park.

Guido Volpi joins from French Div 2 side Narbonne. He becomes the first Argentinian to sign for them in their history.

Wales Sevens star Luke Morgan follows in the footsteps of Sam Cross, and signs up with his first XVs pro contract.

Ospreys – Outs

  • The Ospreys have lost their half back partnership of Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb who are heading to Northampton Saints and Toulon respectively.
  • Centre Kieron Fonotia will make a switch to the Scarlets and offers them a great non-international player.
  • Ashley Beck heads across to Worcester as he bids for more regular rugby.
  • Rowan Jenkins will head to Yorkshire Carnegie after failing to make an impression at the Ospreys.
  • Dafydd Howells is off to the Dragons.
  • Ben John is taking a sabbatical as he looks to other ventures away from rugby.
  • Eli Walker and Brian Mujati are retiring from professional rugby due to injury woes. Walker, once dubbed Wales’ next star is only 25.
  • Dmitri Arhip and Rory Thornton have switched to the Cardiff Blues as discussed above.
  • Jeff Hassler is reportedly signing on loan at Harlequins.
  • Jay Baker, Hugh Gustafson, Brendon Leonard and Guy Mercer all remain currently unattached.

Scarlets Rugby – Ins

Kiwi Kieron Fonotia has signed from the Ospreys.

Another New Zealander Blade Thompson will join up following an impressive Super Rugby campaign with the Hurricanes.

Uzair Cassiemand Clayton Blommetjies both join fropm Pro14 newbies, the Cheetahs.

Phil Price and Angus O’Brien have made the trip West from the Dragons.

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne will join from Edinburgh and adds an impressive bit of depth to the scrum half department.

Kieran Hardy returns to the Scarlets as he joins from Jersey in his bid for top class rugby.

Randwick Rugby star Ed Kennedy will join the Scarlets as a ‘relatively unknown prospect’ but one that fans must trust; as a player who’s been scouted well by Pivac’s backroom staff.

Scarlet’s – Outs

  • Rhys Jones, Tom Williams currently remain unattached.
  • Billy McBride has signed for the RGC 1404.
  • The trio of Emyr Phillips, Jack Condy and Tom Grabham are all retiring, following injury woes.
  • Aled Davies and Scott Williams make the short trip to the Liberty Stadium.
  • John Barclay (see main picture) finishes an epic spell at the club as he return to his homeland of Scotland to join up with Edinburgh.
  • On of the best in-form players in world rugby, Tadgh Beirne, will return to Ireland in pursuit of more caps. The lure of international rugby proved too much and he leaves the Scarlets as a huge part of their recent success. He’ll be joining up with Munster.

Great season lies ahead for Welsh rugby

Following the Scarlets domestic and European success and the Cardiff Blues Challenge Cup victory it sets Welsh rugby up for a good season.

The Dragons are in a new era and the Tandy reign at the Ospreys is over, after some harsh years.

Welsh rugby is pulling in the right direction as all four Regions as the WRU look ahead ‘as one’.

 

“Main photo credit”
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