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Gloucester swiftly replace Fraser Balmain with ex-England U20 prop

By Neil Fissler
Ex-England U20s prop Alfie Petch (Getty Images)

Gloucester have moved for Biarritz tighthead Alfie Petch to fill the gap in their squad that will be left by Fraser Balmain’s departure for former Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens later this summer. RugbyPass exclusively revealed on Wednesday that Saracens boss Mark McCall is ready to make the former Leicester Tigers man Balmain his sixth signing ahead of next season.

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We now understand that the Cherry and Whites, who finished ninth in the 10-team 2023/24 Premiership after losing 13 of their 18 games, are poised to land the 24-year-old.

Educated at Ivybridge Community College near Plymouth, Petch started his career with the same Cornish club, Bude, as Phil Vickery, the 2003 England World Cup winner and British and Irish Lions tourist.

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The former England U20 prop progressed into the Exeter Chiefs academy, making seven first-team appearances, and had a lengthy loan spell with Cornish Pirates to gain valuable experience before moving to Northampton Saints.

Petch moved to the East Midlands with Chiefs teammate Aaron Hinkley in May 2022 and made 21 appearances in his only campaign at Franklin’s Gardens before switching to Biarritz, a surfer’s paradise on France’s Basque coast.

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He played 14 games for the Pro D2 outfit. However, despite performing well, it was announced that he would be leaving when his contract ran out and was seeking a return to the Premiership as soon as possible.

Petch will become George Skivington’s fourth new signing ahead of next season, following Welsh stars Tomos Williams and Gareth Anscombe, and former England international Christian Wade into Kingsholm.

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Loosehead Harry Elrington, wingers Jonny May and Alex Hearle, fly-half Adam Hastings, and hookers Adam McBurney and Santi Socino are all on their way out of the club.

  • Gloucester confirmed later on Wednesday that they have indeed signed Petch. Click here to read what Skivington had to say about the deal
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