England stars to leave Premiership clubs, including ‘world-class’ eight, club ‘legend’ and ‘phenomenal’ prop

Jared Wright
Gloucester wing Jonny May, Saracens forwards Mako Vunipola and Billy Vunipola, Harlequins prop Will Collier.

Four club stalwarts have confirmed their departures from the Premiership at the end of the season.

Four England internationals have confirmed their departures with Will Collier, Jonny May, Billy Vunipola and Mako Vunipola leaving their respective Premiership clubs at the end of the season.

Harlequins, Gloucester, and Saracens all announced the news today ahead of the final round of the Premiership’s regular season.

It has yet to be confirmed where May will go next while the Vunipolas and Collier are set to join Top 14 clubs.

Will Collier leaves Harlequins

Harlequins confirmed that club stalwart Collier will depart the side at the end of the 2023/24 season to embark on “a new playing opportunity in the French Top 14.”

The tighthead was a key cog in Harlequins’ two title-winning Premiership campaigns in 2012 and 2021, racking up over 240 appearances in the Famous Quarters. The two-time England-capped forward graduate joined the club in 2009, debuting in 2011.

“Col has been an integral member of our squad for the past 13 years. He’s a true Harlequin and has made an enormous contribution on and off the pitch,” scrum coach Adam Jones said.

“I am sad to see Col go but we support and understand his desire for a fresh challenge. We wish Col, his wife Kate and their two boys every success, I know he will embrace the lifestyle and make a big impact on the pitch, and we thank him for his outstanding service to our club.”

Collier added: “Having been part of Harlequins since the age of 14, I have been lucky enough to call The Stoop home for almost 20 years. I have been a lifelong fan of this club and playing here has been a dream come true. Some of my greatest friends and memories have come from my time at Quins. It has been a tough decision to leave but I feel now is the right time to take on a new challenge and adventure in France.”

Collier is rumoured to be joining Castres next season.

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Saracens bid Vunipola brothers adieu

Saracens announced that two of their “greatest players in the history of the club” will leave the Premiership side at the end of the season.

Brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola will end their spells at the club, with both players representing Saracens for over a decade.

Billy has represented Saracens 194 times winning five Premiership trophies and three European titles during his time at StoneX Stadium. Meanwhile, Mako matches his brother’s trophy tally in North London while racking up 229 appearances.

The pair have also gone on to represent England over 70 times each.

“It’s been a honour to represent the people and this great club, through the highs and lows I’ve enjoyed it all. I will treasure my time here for the rest of my life!” Billy said.

Mark McCall paid tribute to Billy’s impact in North London: “To watch Billy develop into a world-class number eight and a thoughtful, supportive teammate has been a privilege for us all.

“He has contributed enormously to the progress we have made as a club. On the field his intuition and amazing skill set combined with his competitive spirit and physical attributes made him a force to be reckoned with. Off the field Billy was sensitive to the needs of the group and a fantastic mentor to many younger players.”

Meanwhile, Mako thanked everyone at Saracens for a glittering career: “I’m grateful for everything this club has given me. I’ve grown up at this place and it will be forever in my heart. Thank you.”

McCall added: “Few players change how their position is played. Mako’s all-around skillset, rugby intelligence and physicality made us – as coaches – rethink what’s possible from a loosehead prop.

“Mako has achieved a phenomenal amount in the game; three Lions Tours, multiple England caps and being central to all Saracens has created.”

It is reported that the pair will be off to the Top 14, joining Montpellier.

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Jonny May leaves Gloucester

Finally, Gloucester Rugby announced that fan-favourite Jonny May will leave the club at the end of the current season.

The Gloucester Rugby Academy product had two stints with the Cherry Whites either side of a spell with Leicester Tigers between 2017 and 2020.

He has played 191 games for Gloucester to date, scoring a phenomenal 73 tries and went on to rack up 36 tries in 77 Tests for England, becoming their second highest-ever test try-scorer.

“There’s no doubt that Jonny leaves as a true legend of Gloucester Rugby,” Director of Rugby, George Skivington said.

“He’ll be remembered here for his countless tries, his finishing ability and raw speed which was second to none.

“But what people from the outside don’t see is the hard work and attention to detail that Jonny puts in behind the scenes to make himself one of the best try scorers in the world.

“We’ve got some exciting young wingers coming through, that have learnt a lot from Jonny, and we’re excited to see how they develop in the future.”

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