It’s that time again where, as the squad returns for pre-season and the new campaign creeps into view on the horizon, where we bid farewell to those who are departing the Arms Park this summer.
Unlike some recent years where we saw upwards of 10 players moving on between seasons, this summer is a fairly quiet one in Cardiff in terms of both incomings and outgoings, with just two players arriving and five leaving, with a further one having departed during the campaign. Of those six, only two were established first team players.
We start with the biggest news story of the summer as Cory Hill made the surprise announcement that he was leaving the Wales squad and had informed the Cardiff management that he was exploring a playing opportunity overseas. It subsequently transpired that further wage cuts being imposed had allowed him to look at moving clubs as he had not signed up to adjusted contract terms last summer.
The 29-year-old had only returned to the Arms Park last summer after eight years away at first Moseley and then the Dragons, and made one appearance in the games to wrap up the 2019/20 campaign before making 11 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring one try. He is believed to be embarking on a new phase of his career in Japan next year.
Joining him as departing the first team squad is Ethan Lewis who has left the club at the end of his contract. The hooker made 59 appearances in all competitions since making his debut in 2014, as well as playing seven times for the A side in the British and Irish Cup, and making 74 appearances for the Rags.
Unfortunately he struggled for game time in the battle with Kris Dacey, Liam Belcher, Kirby Myhill and Iestyn Harris, and the 27-year-old departs for Saracens where he has signed a two-year deal after a short loan spell at the back end of last season.
There are then three departures from the Academy where Ioan Davies has opted not to remain in Cardiff, despite a suggestion that he was offered a professional deal to stay on, and has instead headed to Dragons where he spent the Rainbow Cup on loan recently.
The 21-year-old was a standout player at full-back during the 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship, and impressed on 14 outings for the Rags as part of his development, but first team outings were restricted to two Guinness Pro14 appearances against Edinburgh and Ospreys either side of the first coronavirus enforced lockdown, and he has now chosen to head for pastures new.
It’s a theme across the Academy departures with back rower Ioan Rhys Davies next up on the departures, with the blindside flanker/number eight looking at the strength in depth in those areas at the Arms Park and deciding to try his hand elsewhere in order to make the step to senior professional rugby.
A six-times capped Wales U20 international, Davies played against Uruguay in October 2019 but otherwise found chances limited and has signed for Sporting Club Graulhetois in the Federale 1, France’s third tier of competition. Located between Toulouse and Castres, it is the former club of France international Yannick Jauzion.
The final Academy departure is Ben Warren who has taken an opportunity with the Ospreys as the likes of Dillon Lewis, Dmitri Arhip, Scott Andrews, Keiron Assiratti and Will Davies-King make forging a path to the first team as a young tighthead prop a difficult task.
A Rhondda boy he was part of the successful 2016 and 2017 Coleg y Cymoedd sides before going on to win 15 Wales U20 caps and feature regularly for Merthyr in the Indigo Group Premiership, and will now try to push on and reach his potential at the Liberty Stadium.
Finally, mid-season saw the short-term signing of loosehead prop Rowan Jenkins as cover with Rhys Carre on international duty with Wales and Rhys Gill ruled out for a lengthy spell with a bicep injury.
The former Wales U18 international and semi-regular for Ospreys A sides was considered the best loosehead in the Premiership last season and made his only outing in a Cardiff jersey in an A side game against the Dragons at the end of October. He will now return to Aberavon ahead of their return to action in September.
Thank you to all players for their efforts while at Cardiff and best of luck for the future.