Bath have confirmed that Zach Mercer will be leaving the club at the end of the season and joining Top 14 side Montpellier, with South African number eight Jaco Coetzee signing for the Blue, Black and White ahead of 2021/22.
Academy graduate Mercer has made the decision to leave English shores to continue his career with the French giants. The skilful forward, who is known for his strong ball carrying and is a well-known favourite of supporters, will depart the club when his contract runs out.
Coetzee will join as Mercer’s replacement, bringing significant attacking capability as a destructive ball-carrying number eight.
The 24-year-old forward has spent much of his career in South Africa, most recently with Super Rugby side, the Stormers. He made his debut in 2017, the same year he helped Western Province to Currie Cup glory.
Dream to play in France
Mercer said: “It has been a long-standing dream of mine to play in France – the game is physical and will suit my playing style. I feel like I am able to offer the TOP14 something different and that is what I am looking forward to.
“I’ve spent a huge part of my career with the Blue, Black and White and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities this has brought me.”
“I found it impossible to say no to the offer of a long-term contract with Montpellier and I’m very grateful to have had respectful and honest conversations every step of the way with Hoops (Stuart Hooper). There is a brilliant group of players and staff at Bath and I know they will go on to achieve great things together.
“It is an honour to represent the City of Bath and I want to thank everyone, especially our supporters, for their unwavering backing over the years. I’m here for a while yet and I will continue to give my all in the jersey.”
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) February 10, 2017
Stuart Hooper commented: “Zach is an exceptional player and one who we feel very proud of at Bath. He has an exciting time ahead of him in France and after many conversations, we know this is the right move for him at this stage of his career.
“These conversations, alongside Zach’s maturity as a young man, allowed us the time to secure a high-quality player with the exact attributes we need heading into 2021/22. We will never hold any players back from realising their dreams and on this occasion, we see a brilliant young man leave to do just this.
“With Jaco’s arrival, we feel we have an unbelievably exciting addition to the squad who will be available to play for the Club for the full season. He’s an intimidating ball carrier and will cause huge problems for our opposition no matter where he is on the field. I’m looking forward to seeing him compete with our current group of strong back rowers to get on the field for us.”