Michael Claassens will leave Bath Rugby in the summer
Bath have confirmed that fans’ favourite Michael Claassens will leave the club at the end of the season, ending a six-year association with Bath.
The South African scrum-half first arrived from Free State Cheetahs in 2007, but has been linked with Top 14 side Toulon since Christmas.
“Michael won’t be at the club next year,” said Bath head coach Gary Gold. “He has spent six years here and has been outstanding.
“We’ve spoken about this from early days, knowing full well that Michael wanted to move on.
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“It’s for no other reason than a lifestyle change. It’s probably his last full professional job before he returns home and he is quite keen to get a taste of another culture.
“I still think he is playing good enough rugby to take on another challenge, whatever that challenge is.
“We are sad to see him go, but he goes with our blessing and our massive appreciation for what he has done for the club.”
The eight-cap Springbok international has been a key member of the Bath squad since arriving from his homeland and captained the club during the 2009-10 season.
The 30-year-old recently just missed out in his attempt to set the record for consecutive Aviva Premiership appearances. January’s defeat at Wasps was Claassens’ 83rd top-flight game in a row, but a hand injury at Adams Park has sidelined him since.
Gold, meanwhile, says more new signings will follow the arrival of Australian Leroy Houston and Argentina prop Juan Pablo Orlandi.
“I’m very excited about them and they are the first of a handful of names over the next three to four months that we are hopefully going to be able to announce,” said Gold.
“Our process was to make sure that the current squad was looked after to make sure they knew where they stand.
“We’re pretty settled with where we are for next year and in one or two key areas there will be one or two individuals we need to bring in.
“There are a few other things in the pipeline. We are still in a few negotiations, but we are comfortable with the look of the squad.”