Transfers: Scotland scrum-half retires, Bath confirm England international’s departure, nine players leave Ulster

Jared Wright
Scotland scrum-half Scott Steele, Bath forward Josh McNally and Ulster back Luke Marshall.

Scotland scrum-half Scott Steele, Bath forward Josh McNally and Ulster back Luke Marshall.

Another busy day on the transfer market with Edinburgh, Bath and Ulster providing updates for their squads ahead of the 2024/25 season.

As the current season draws to a close, clubs are releasing the lists of leavers while confirming some of their recruitments ahead of the upcoming season.

Here is our wrap-up of today’s updates.

Scotland scrum-half Scott Steele retires

Edinburgh Rugby announced the list of seven senior players who will depart the Scottish Capital this season.

The club had already confirmed the departures of WP Nel (retirement), Viliame Mata (Bristol Bears), Charlie Savala (Northampton Saints), Luan de Bruin (Newcastle Falcons), Adam McBurney (Connacht) and Jamie Campbell (released) before today.

Amidst the flurry of departures, Scotland international scrum-half Scott Steele has announced his retirement after his struggles with a hip injury that has kept him on the sidelines for the entirety of the regular season.

The 30-year-old represented Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Harlequins during his career and earned four caps for Scotland.

“After 3 years of battling with injuries and whilst currently recovering from my third hip operation, I’ve decided to retire from professional rugby at the end of this season,” Steele wrote on his social media.

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“My career has way exceeded any expectations I first had when it all started at my local rugby club Dumfries Saints. To go on and represent such prestigious clubs as Leicester Tigers, London Irish, Harlequins and to get capped for Scotland 4 times is something I’m extremely proud of.

“Thank you to my family and close friends for their support which gave me the belief to chase my dream job and stick at it for 13 long years.”

Josh McNally leaves Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby have announced the departure of lock Josh McNally at the end of the season.

The former club captain has racked up 84 appearances for Bath during his five years at the Rec.

“It’s time to say goodbye and thank you,” the 33-year-old said.

“It’s been a true honour to have had the opportunity to wear the Blue, Black and White, to represent everyone who works for this club, and to represent this great city.

“Bath will always hold a special place in our hearts. A place where myself, Sarah, Toby and Alice have made friends and memories to last a lifetime.

“Thank you to all the players, coaches and staff over the last five years who have pushed me, guided me and put me back together along the way. It’s been full of highs and lows, but I’ve learnt so much and I’ll leave this club a better person. I love this club, I love this city and I will do everything I can to help the lads finish this season with silverware. Thank you.”

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McNally earned his Test debut for England in 2021, when he represented his country against the United States.

“Josh added so much to Bath Rugby on and off the field. He is a very good rugby player, a consistent and dependable leader but most importantly, a great team man,” Johann van Graan added.

“He leaves Bath Rugby in a better place, and I wish him and his family the very best. Josh will make a success in whatever he chooses to do in life!”

Ulster bid farewell to nine players

Finally, Ulster Rugby have announced the nine players who will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

The list includes club legend Luke Marshall who has represented the side 166 times and will be hanging up his boots at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, club centurion Billy Burns will join Munster next season while the lock Greg Jones, back Will Addison, prop James French and fullback Shea O’Brien have all been released.

Fly-half Angus Curtis has also announced his retirement while prop Steven Kitshoff and flanker Dave Ewers will be leaving Ulster after just one season with the Irish province.

“On behalf of everyone at Ulster Rugby, I would like to say thank you to the players that will be leaving the club at the end of the season,” Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment Bryn Cunningham said.

“Despite all being at various stages of their careers, with some having spent many years at the club and others at the start of their professional rugby, it is important to acknowledge the positive impact that each individual has made on the club, both on and off the pitch and in terms of their professionalism day in, day out.

“I would, however, like to give special mention to Lukey [Marshall] having been a proud servant of Ulster Rugby for the past fifteen years. He epitomises what it is to be one of the Ulster men, after starting out with Ballymena RFC and going on to represent his club, country and family at the highest level of the game. He is the template in terms of character for what pathway players should aspire to be.”

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