Bath duo announce their retirements at the end of season

Bath strikers JJ van Vels and Chris Cloete have announced their retirement from rugby at the end of the season.

The South African duo have spent the last two years at the Rec, having arrived with President of Rugby Johan van Graan in 2022.

Both previously worked under Van Graan, with Van Vels serving under him at Bulls and Cloete coaching him at Munster.

The versatile Van Vels striker made more than 150 Premier League appearances, with spells for Northampton Saints and Worcester Warriors before joining Bath.

A former South African, Cloete, a back-row player, made 26 appearances for the West Country side after arriving from Thomond Park.


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“I am very proud to be part of Chris and Gerrit Jan's rugby journeys through the world of rugby,” Van Graan said after announcing their exit.

“A huge congratulations to both players on their careers, the memories we shared, the impact they had on others and most importantly to the two great men.

“Gerrit Gunn is a player I have coached at Aves, Bulls and now Bath. I will remember him as one of the best leaders I have ever coached and as a player with a deep understanding of the game of rugby. I wish GJ and his family the best for the next step in their journey.”

“JJ is one of the best men I have ever had the honor of coaching. Gerrit Gunn, thank you for believing in our vision for Bath, we will remember your influence for years to come!”

“Chris has had an amazing rugby journey that has taken him all over the world. I am grateful to have spent many years coaching Chris at Munster and Bath.

“I will remember Chris as one of the toughest and fiercest competitors I have ever faced, whether it was on the training field or in the game.

“He was one of those players that everyone enjoyed being around, and his laugh was contagious. Chris, thank you for the memories you left with us and enjoy the journey up the west coast of Africa to your homeland.


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