Welsh rugby's ins and outs for 2024-25 season

Jonathan Davies
British & Irish Lion Jonathan Davies' future is uncertain after leaving Scarlets [Getty Images]

Welsh rugby is facing another tumultuous summer as the regions weigh up the latest round of budget cuts.

Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets will see the salary cap fall further, from £5.2m to £4.5m for next season.

The reduction is part of the six-year funding framework agreed with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) last year.

But it means the regions will see more comings and goings as they scramble to piece together squads capable of improving their positions in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

BBC Sport Wales brings you a round-up of all the news and gossip surrounding players' futures.

Cardiff

Callum Sheedy playing for Wales
Callum Sheedy has won 16 caps for Wales [Huw Evans Picture Agency]

In: Cardiff-born Wales fly-half Callum Sheedy is returning to Wales following a decade at Bristol - where he became their top Premiership points scorer - to offer some respite for Tinus de Beer, who has played in every game this season.

Sheedy is followed from Ashton Gate by flanker Dan Thomas, who spent seven seasons with the Bears.

Ireland prop Ed Byrne will join from Leinster, where he won five league titles and the European Champions Cup, and is joined by another loose-head prop, Danny Southworth from Exeter Chiefs.

Cardiff have also signed two new wings with ex-England Under-20s wing Gabriel Hamer-Webb making a permanent return, after spending three months at the Arms Park in the middle of the season, as well as Wales-qualified Iwan Stephens from Newcastle Falcons.

Centre Rory Jennings has also made the move from Falcons.

Former Italy lock Corniel van Zyl takes the role of forwards coach with a move from Ealing Trailfinders, where he took a short-term deal after the collapse of London Irish.

Re-signed: Mason Grady, Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Keiron Assiratti, Cameron Winnett, Alex Mann, Mackenzie Martin, Evan Lloyd, Harri Millard, James Botham, Jacob Beetham, Alun Lawrence, Dafydd Hughes, Will Davies-King, Rey Lee-Lo, Gethin Jenkins (defence coach).

Out: Tomos Williams (Gloucester), Rhys Carre (Saracens), Elis Jenkins (retiring), Shane Lewis-Hughes (Dragons), Owen Lane (Valance Romans), Josh Turnbull (retiring), Richie Rees (assistant coach - Monmouth School), Ciaran Parker (retiring), Aled Summerhill, Arwel Robson (Chambery), Max Clark, Gonzalo Bertranou, Matthew Aubrey, Lopeti Timani, Willis Halaholo.

Uncertain: Cardiff have still to officially sign a replacement scrum-half to replace Tomos Williams.

Dragons

Dan Lydiate
Dan Lydiate has made nine appearances in his second stint with Dragons [Huw Evans Picture Agency]

In: Wales back-row Shane Lewis-Hughes moves from Cardiff while Australian Steve Cummings links up with Dai Flanagan once again.

The 32-year-old joins from French club Pau, having had previous stints in South Africa, Australia and with Flanagan at Scarlets between 2017 and 2020.

Fellow Australian, centre Harry Wilson, is also heading to Rodney Parade from NSW Waratahs and will be joined by another Super Rugby player in Solomone Funaki. Former Wales Under-20s hooker Oli Burrows has also joined from Exeter Chiefs.

The Tonga back row plays as Manu Pasifika under new Dragons defence coach Filo Tiatia.

Re-signed: Rio Dyer, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Matthew Screech, Angus O'Brien, Will Reed, Ewan Rosser, Ryan Woodman, Harri Ackerman, Joe Westwood, Che Hope, Morgan Lloyd, Sam Scarfe, Oli Andrew.

Out: Gonzalo Bertranou, Lewis Jones, Aki Seiuli, Sean Lonsdale, Sio Tomkinson, Max Clark, Corey Baldwin, Nathan Evans, Ellis Shipp, Jack Dixon (retiring), Chris Hollis Mefin Davies (assistant coach), Luke Narraway (assistant coach).

Uncertain: There has been no signal yet of the future of British & Irish Lions flanker Dan Lydiate or Wales front-rowers Bradley Roberts and Leon Brown, who has been linked with a move to Bristol.

Prop Dimitri Arhip joined on a short-term deal with no word yet on whether he will remain.

Ospreys

Kieran Hardy playing for Wales against England
Kieran Hardy has won 21 caps for Wales [Huw Evans Picture Agency]

In: Wales scrum-half Keiran Hardy is joining from Scarlets and is followed by prop Steff Thomas who will compete for a starting place with his cousin and fellow loose-head Gareth Thomas.

Ex-England Under-20s wing Phil Cokanasiga, younger brother of England wing Joe, joins from Leicester Tigers.

Wales-qualified lock Will Greatbanks has signed from French second-tier club Soyaux Angouleme.

Re-signed: James Fender, Jack Walsh, Ethan Lewis, Lewis Lloyd, Garyn Phillips, Luke Scully, Huw Sutton, Harri Deaves, Dan Edwards, Max Nagy, Keelan Giles, Tom Botha, Tom Florence, Cam Jones.

Out: George North (Provence), Nicky Smith (Leicester), Alex Cuthbert, Toby Fricker, Mat Protheroe, Will Hickey, Cameron Jones.

Scarlets

Vaea Fifita of Scarlets
Vaea Fifita joined Scarlets from Wasps [Huw Evans Picture Agency]

In: Scarlets have bolstered their front-row by signing two international props.

Wales' World Cup tight-head Henry Thomas has joined from Castres while Scotland prop Alec Hepburn joins from Exeter Chiefs where he won the European Champions Cup in 2020 and reached six English Premiership finals in succession.

South African hooker Marnus van der Merwe, who was included in Rassie Erasmus' initial 43-man Springboks squad for the Rugby Championship, joins from Cheetahs where was part of the 2023 Currie Cup winning side.

He follows fellow South African Jarrod Taylor who joined from Stormers in February.

Welsh-qualified full-back Ellis Mee has joined from Nottingham where the 20-year-old has been combining his rugby career with studies at Nottingham Trent University.

Australian lock Max Douglas will arrive from Japanese side Yokohama Canon Eagles, while Welsh-qualified utility back Blair Murray comes in from New Zealand side Canterbury.

Re-signed: Alex Craig, Sam Lousi, Tom Rogers, Harri O'Connor, Ben Williams, Dan Davis.

Out: Wyn Jones, Scott Williams, Jonathan Davies, Johnny McNicholl (Crusaders), Kieran Hardy (Ospreys), Steff Thomas (Ospreys), Dan Jones, Ryan Conbeer, Ken Owens (retiring), Samson Lee (retiring), Iwan Shenton, Eduan Swart, Joe Jones, Teddy Leatherbarrow.

Uncertain: Negotiations are ongoing with out of contract Wales centre Johnny Williams and Tonga forward Vaea Fifita, who has a year left on his current deal, while Scarlets will be hoping Scotland lock Alex Craig will stay.

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