Now the 2020/21 season is fully complete, the annual rotation of players to their new clubs can take place before pre-season training begins. As always, supporters will be sad to see certain players depart, and welcome new faces who they believe will strengthen their team.
Here we have picked out the five biggest Gallagher Premiership 2021 departures, all of which will be significant losses to their now former clubs.
Max Malins – Bristol Bears
Whilst Bristol Bears always knew Max Malins was a temporary part of their squad, they probably didn’t expect how much of a loss he would be by the end of the season. Primarily a fly-half or fullback, Malins found his place on the wing for Bristol with an impressive try-scoring rate.
Malins’ form was such that he earned call-ups for England in both the Nations Cup and Six Nations. Having mostly been a bit-part player for Saracens, he returns to North London a significantly enhanced player. It will be interesting to see where he slots into the Saracens team, with Alex Goode, Owen Farrell, and Elliot Daly for competition at 10 or 15.
Willi Heinz – Gloucester
Gloucester suffered badly during the season with injuries to half backs, and Willi Heinz’s absence was a significant part of this. Whilst youngsters Charlie Chapman and Steven Varney have stepped up, Heinz’s return in January was a major boost as Gloucester started to move off the bottom of the table.
📸 MATCH ACTION
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) May 28, 2021
Initially battling Greig Laidlaw for the starting spot when he first joined Gloucester, Heinz became a very important player and was eventually made club captain in 2018. He has racked up 100 appearances in Cherry and White, and in 2021/22 will continue playing in the Premiership with Worcester Warriors.
Mike Brown – Harlequins
Mike Brown has had something of a renaissance for Harlequins after his international career ended, playing an important role in his team’s run to the final. Of course, he was unable to play at Twickenham due to suspension but he leaves Quins with a second Premiership winners medal.
Of course, he'll have preferred to play.
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) June 26, 2021
After Chris Robshaw’s departure last season, 35-year-old Brown is the next of the Quins stalwarts to leave. He will reconnect with Dean Richards at Newcastle and will likely be a good fit for the physical Falcons team.
Rhys Priestland – Bath
Having an international standard player who doesn’t play international matches is a coach’s dream, and Rhys Priestland was certainly that for Bath. Since joining in 2015, he has made over 100 appearances, winning the Premiership golden boot in the 2019/20 season. His metronomic kicking has been vital for Bath; he set a new Premiership record for consecutive kicks during the 2020/21 season.
Priestland is returning to Wales with Cardiff Rugby, having made his name for the Scarlets before he moved to Bath. Danny Cipriani will go some way to filling his shoes, but he will be a very different type of player at fly-half.
Nick Schonert – Worcester Warriors
There’s strong competition between the several high-profile names leaving Worcester this summer for the club’s biggest loss. Club legend Chris Pennell, Francois Hougaard, and Duncan Weir are among those departing. But prop Nick Schonert will be a very significant loss.
The 29-year-old tighthead has been at the club since 2014 and has made over 100 appearances, anchoring the Warriors scrum and attracting Eddie Jones in the process. South African-born Schonert has been included in England training squads, and he played in a non-capped Barbarians game in 2018.
There has been plenty of speculation that Schonert was to join Sale Sharks, although he was officially “released early and been given permission to speak to other clubs” by Worcester at the start of June.
Gallagher Premiership 2021 departures
There are many more names who could be considered huge losses for their teams, but the above five players will leave significant legacies at their respective clubs. From the one-season impact of a Malins, to club stalwarts like Brown, there are big shoes to be filled across the league.
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