Bath Rugby can today confirm that Zach Mercer will be leaving the Club at the end of the season and will join TOP14 side Montpellier, with exciting South African No.8 Jaco Coetzee joining the Blue, Black and White in March.
Academy graduate, Mercer has made the decision to leave English shores to continue his career with French giants, Montpellier. The skillful forward, who is known for his strong ball carrying and is a well-known favourite of Blue, Black and White supporters, will leave the Club when his contract runs out.
Coetzee will join the Club as Mercer’s replacement bringing vast experience alongside his impressive stopping power and physical play at the breakdown. Coetzee brings significant attacking capability as a destructive ball-carrying No. 8 and will add further dominance to the squad as it evolves its attacking game.
The 24-year-old forward has spent much of his career in South Africa, most recently with Super Rugby side, The Stormers. The No.8 made his debut in 2017, the same year he helped Western Province to Currie Cup glory.
Mercer said: “It has been a long-standing dream of mine to play in France - the game is physical and will suit my playing style. I feel like I am able to offer the TOP14 something different and that is what I am looking forward to.
"I’ve spent a huge part of my career with the Blue, Black and White and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities this has brought me."
“I found it impossible to say no to the offer of a long-term contract with Montpellier and I’m very grateful to have had respectful and honest conversations every step of the way with Hoops (Stuart Hooper). There is a brilliant group of players and staff at Bath and I know they will go on to achieve great things together.
“It is an honour to represent the City of Bath and I want to thank everyone, especially our supporters, for their unwavering backing over the years. I’m here for a while yet and I will continue to give my all in the jersey.”
Stuart Hooper commented: “Zach is an exceptional player and one who we feel very proud of at Bath. He has an exciting time ahead of him in France and after many conversations, we know this is the right move for him at this stage of his career. These conversations, alongside Zach’s maturity as a young man, allowed us the time to secure a high-quality player with the exact attributes we need. We will never hold any players back from realising their dreams and on this occasion, we see a brilliant young man leave to do just this.
“With Jaco’s arrival, we feel we have an unbelievably exciting addition to the squad who will be available to play for the Club for the full season. He’s an intimidating ball carrier and will cause huge problems for our opposition no matter where he is on the field. I’m looking forward to seeing him compete with our current group of strong back rowers to get on the field for us.”