Bath rugby have confirmed that Matt Banahan will join their West Country rivals Gloucester at the end of the season.
Banhana has spent nearly 12 seasons at the Rec making more than 250 appearances. The 31 year old has scored 90 tries during that time and become a firm fans favourite.
Banahan originally joined the club as a forward in 2006, his size and power an obvious asset, but was soon moved to the wing, where his pace and strength led to an England call up and his debut against Argentina in 2009. Banahan went on to earn 16 caps for his country and was selected for the 2011 World Cup.
We’ll be really sad to see Matt leave at the end of the season, but we completely understand the decision he has made with his family and future in mind.
Bath currently lie fifth in the Premiership and have ambitions for a top four finish. They also currently top Pool 5 in the Champions Cup ahead of this Friday's match with Scarlets at the Rec.
With plenty of the season remaining and with a view to building on the existing squad, work is already underway to find a replacement for a player who has showed remarkable versatility and consistency during his time with Bath/
We’re working hard to ensure we get the right balance in the squad, taking into account the various complexities of building the squad we want long-term, and we will make further announcements on recruitment when appropriate.
As for Gloucester, Director of Rugby David Humphrey's is thrilled to have landed a player who's experience will only benefit a relatively young side who have already surprised a few teams and pundits this season with their performances, performances which see them sitting fourth in the Premiership table 1 point above rivals Bath.
Matt has had a wonderful career at Bath and he will bring a huge amount of quality and experience to the young, exciting squad we are building in Gloucester.
Plenty of players have swapped teams in the West Country before, Olly Barkley and Mike Tindall to name just two, but Banahan's move after more than a decade with Bath will certainly disappoint fans at the Rec while Gloucester supporters and players can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing the next time the two sides meet they'll be running out along side the the 6'7”, 100kg Banahan instead of running into him.