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Wales Online
Wales Online
Mark Orders

The full list of close on 50 players confirmed as leaving in Welsh rugby's huge exodus

Exit signs? They are on the way out, it was once joked.

Fair enough.

But plenty are passing such pointers in Welsh rugby right now, amid the latest batch of players to be confirmed as moving on in Wales.

Read more: Where the 16 Cardiff leavers are now going and what the team will be now left with

On Thursday evening, Cardiff announced that 16 first-team squad members would be leaving, prompting more than one supporter to recycle the old line about the last one out remembering to turn off the lights.

It’s the quality of some of those going from the Arms Park that is striking. Cardiff are saying goodbye to 10 internationals, including class acts and vastly experienced stalwarts.

They still have plenty of quality in their squad, but depth has been stripped away.

The Scarlets had previously waved goodbye to 15 players, with the Dragons announcing nine exits. Now the Ospreys are the only one of the Welsh professional teams still to officially announce their list of departures.

But Welsh rugby’s spring of farewells is well and truly continuing apace. When it ends, there could be around 50 players who would have moved on.

Pickfords will have a lot of business.

For those individuals who are reluctant leavers, it’s a sad time.

The game in Wales is in such a state of huge flux that even a super optimist might find it hard to be positive about the prospects of the four regions for next term and indeed the season after, and indeed the campaign after that.

Maybe even that season after that as well. Here are the confirmed moves in Welsh rugby so far.


There are four internationals on the Dragons’ list of players leaving the region.

Ross Moriarty has already joined Brive, Will Rowlands is switching to Racing 92 and Sam Davies has been heavily linked with Grenoble, with Rob Evans’ future uncertain.

The loss of Rowlands is a particular blow for the east Walians.

Welsh rugby’s player of the year for 2022 had shown himself to be a high-quality performer, standing out at the centre of the Dragons pack, while Moriarty gave the team a hard edge. Davies may not have started many games last term, but when he did figure in the run-on side he performed well.

It was a mild surprise that Ben Fry was on the list of those who won’t be around at the east Wales region next term. A teak-tough back rower, he always gave everything for the club and it’s hard to recall the flanker taking a backward step.

But, presumably, financial lines have to be drawn somewhere and he was on the wrong side of this one.

Whatever, a side who finished 15th in the United Rugby Championship will face challenges again next term.

Of course they will.

Departing: Sam Davies, Rob Evans, Ross Moriarty (Brive), Will Rowlands (Racing 92), Ben Fry, Lennon Greggains, Huw Taylor, Ioan Davies, Ben Moa.


Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Patchell, Dane Blacker and Aaron Shingler are among the Welsh headline acts who won’t be on the scene in Llanelli in 2023-24.

Shingler is retiring as a player and Blacker has joined the Dragons, with the other two yet to finalise their next steps.

WillGriff John is also heading out, along with Scotland international Javan Sebastian. But maybe the biggest loss on the list of 15 leavers will be Sione Kalamafoni.

Indeed, there’s no ‘maybe’ about it. The Tongan has been one of the finest overseas imports to play in Wales, banging in man-of-the-match performances week after week and shining on days when it's been difficult to shine.

Scarlets will hope Carwyn Tuipulotu can eventually fill the void, but Kalamafoni is a tough act to follow.

Tomas Lezana, Josh Helps and Blade Thomson left during the season.

Departing: Sione Kalamafoni (Vannes), Javan Sebastian (Edinburgh), Dane Blacker (Dragons), Aaron Shingler (retired), Alex Jeffries (retired), Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Patchell, Lewis Rawlins, Tom Price, Phil Price, Taylor Davies, Daf Hughes, Corey Baldwin, WillGriff John, Iestyn Rees.


To read Cardiff’s list of leavers on Thursday was to be transported back to Parc des Sports Aguilera in 2012 with a Biarritz official wondering to two Welsh journalists how the Ospreys were allowing a quality team to break up. “It’s crazy,” the man said. “They had a wonderful side.”

Financial considerations were, of course, behind it 11 years ago. Just as such concerns were significantly behind Cardiff’s extended list of departees this week.

The harsh reality is that the Welsh sides are having to tighten their belts and talent is exiting from each of them.

But Cardiff appear to have been hit harder than most.

Rhys Priestland, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams, Kristian Dacey, Kirby Myhill, Dillon Lewis, Dmitri Arhip and Josh Navidi are internationals, some of them players who could challenge for places in virtually any side in the United Rugby Championship. Max Llewellyn is a young player with a big future, with James Ratti another one whose best is still to come.

Cardiff have a record for producing quality young players and the likes of Cameron Winnett, Jacob Beetham and Efan Daniel are coming through.

They’ll need others to accelerate their development as well.

Departing: Rhys Priestland, Jason Harries, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Harri Millard, Max Llewellyn (Gloucester), Jarrod Evans (Harlequins), Lloyd Williams, Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis (Harlequins), Dmitri Arhip, Joe Peard, James Ratti, Josh Navidi (retired).


The Ospreys have yet to put out a list of leavers.

However, some have already been confirmed, with others indicating their exits on social media.

Few saw the loss coming of Joe Hawkins to Exeter Chiefs, while Ethan Roots’ departure to the Devon club surprised some as well.

The Ospreys have cover in midfield, but they would have wanted to hold on to Hawkins, a player they have nurtured, and Roots was settling well.

Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler left during the campaign, with Stephen Myler announcing his playing days were over and Dan Lydiate and Gareth Anscombe making statements on social media.

It would be a surprise if Bradley Davies and Elvis Taione were to be playing for the Ospreys next term, while Rhys Webb has been heavily linked with a move to France, although nothing has been confirmed.

Alun Wyn Jones is believed to be under contract through to the World Cup.

Departures so far: Stephen Myler (retiring), Joe Hawkins (Exeter Chiefs), Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs), Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (Toyota Industries Shuttles), Dan Lydiate, Gareth Anscombe.

*Ospreys’ complete list has yet to be officially announced.


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