Welsh international Hibbard follows Moriarty with Gloucester exit
Gloucester Rugby have confirmed that their Wales and British & Irish Lion hooker, Richard Hibbard, will leave the club at the end of the season to pursue a playing opportunity in Wales – namely the Dragons.
The Kingsholm crowd favourite will move back to Wales for the beginning of the 2018/19 season after signing a three-year deal to join the Dragons.
Hooker Hibbard, who has won 38 caps for Wales since his debut in 2006, played in all three of the 2015 British & Irish Lions Tests and continues to prove that he performs at the very highest level after being selected as Gloucester’s player of the year following a tremendous 2016/17 season.
The Neath born front row forward, who turned 34 last week, played for Taibach, Aberavon and Swansea, then spent ten seasons at the Ospreys before joining the Cherry and Whites.
He made his senior Wales debut against Argentina in 2006, scoring his first international try in the win over Scotland at Murrayfield in the 2013 RBS 6 Nations and scored again for Wales against Ireland in August 2015, his most recent international appearance prior to the Rugby World Cup.
NEW SIGNING | Delighted to confirm Richard Hibbard will join the Dragons next season ??
— Dragons Rugby (@dragonsrugby) December 18, 2017
“Richard is an outstanding hooker and is someone that will add to our squad on and off the field,” said Dragons Head Coach Bernard Jackman. “He has huge experience at the highest level and given that we have a very young squad at present that expertise will be invaluable.
Hibbard’s arrival is another boost as Bernard Jackman continues to assemble a powerful and abrasive pack resembling the Gwent traditions of the past. Jackman has already successfully retained a number of key players for next season’s campaign including forwards Leon Brown, Elliot Dee, Ollie Griffiths and Joe Davies.
“We have some quality players coming through our system, but we lack some depth in certain positions and Richard signing gives us real depth at Hooker. He believes that he has unfinished business back in Wales and I and all the staff at the Dragons are looking forward to working with him.”
Hibbard was under contract for another season following this one and admits that he’ll leave with a heavy heart, albeit with great memories, but that the opportunity to finish his career where it began, in Wales, was too good to turn down.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult decision. The reason it’s been so tough is that I’ve become so attached to Gloucester during my time here. I’ve probably played some of my very best rugby in Cherry and White and I’ve enjoyed it so much.
“My family have been made to feel so welcome, we’ve made friends for life, on and off the field, and we’ll always think of Gloucester as a home from home.
“The support is second to none, whether it’s the roar of the Shed before kick-off, meeting and talking to supporters around the City or seeing them proudly wearing the colours when we’re on the road.
“Gloucester’s become a real part of me, and always will be and I’m proud to be able to say that. I hope people can see that I’ve bought into that, have always given it 100% and promise that I will continue to do so for the rest of my time here.
“Johan talks about leaving your imprint on a club when you move on and, when the time comes, I hope I’ll be able to look back on my time and feel that I’ve done that. The future looks exciting, there are some talented young players coming through and I hope the Gloucester supporters will be rewarded for their incredible loyalty by the team tasting success.
“Finishing my career in Wales is important to me though, and this opportunity has probably come a little sooner than I expected. But to have the chance to finish on a high, back home in Wales in front of family and friends is an exciting one.”
Director of Rugby David Humphreys added, that when Hibbard moves on, he’ll have made an excellent contribution to the club’s history.
“We knew what we were getting when Hibbs joined the club – an absolute warrior – and he’s more than lived up to that. The part he’s played for Gloucester Rugby over the past few seasons cannot be over-estimated.
“But, when we were made aware of the opportunity that had arisen, we felt that it was only fair to allow Richard to pursue it.
“As is the case with Ross Moriarty, I know for a fact that Hibbs will give it everything in his remaining time with Gloucester Rugby. We’ll wish them both well in their future endeavours when the time comes, but look forward to them making more memories here before they leave.”
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