The financial hit that many clubs have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant there have been widespread salary cuts across the game. In light of that, there have been mass contract renewals, largely in the Gallagher Premiership, where over 30 players in some cases have signed new deals at one club.
But there are still some players that have slipped through the net, and the 2020/21 season will be the final year of their contracts. Of course, there is still plenty of time for new deals to be struck, but there will inevitably be movements come the end.
This coming season is particularly interesting as the British and Irish Lions will tour South Africa at the end of it. That will be a huge incentive for players to stay in their native countries in order to remain in contention for Warren Gatland’s squad.
So these are some player contracts that are set to run out in 2021:
Alun Wyn Jones
The Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones is 34-years-old now (35 on Saturday) but has surely set his sights on his fourth Lions tour. He signed a deal with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys in July 2019 to run to June 2021.
Wales and Ospreys centre Scott Williams signed his current deal in November 2017, but hasn’t played a Test since August 2019.
Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton, like Wales captain Jones, is another who is likely shaping his future around the Lions next year, where he will be 36.
Ireland and Leinster’s loosehead Cian Healy signed a new deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union in May 2019 until 2021, where he will be 33.
Leinster tighthead Tadhg Furlong signed a bumper new deal with the IRFU in 2017, and it seems very unlikely that he would move elsewhere.
Ulster captain Iain Henderson is pivotal for club and country, but there is still not a lot of clarity regarding his future.
A peripheral member of the Ireland squad, the 26-year-old Ultan Dillane will want to still push for more Test caps.
A hugely influential figure for Scotland and Edinburgh, fans will want to keep hold of flanker Hamish Watson.
Jamie Ritchie is another member of the Edinburgh back row whose contract is running out.
Fiji’s Leone Nakarawa is enjoying his second stint with Glasgow, having arrived in January 2020 from Racing 92, and signed a new one-year deal in June.
Scotland centre Huw Jones signed a new deal with Glasgow in December 2018, rejecting offers from the Gallagher Premiership.
England’s Manu Tuilagi may have only just arrived at Sale Sharks from Leicester Tigers, but it was only a one-year deal.
Bath will surely do everything to prevent losing England and Lions back Anthony Watson as he nears the end of a two-year contract.
Two-cap England international Zach Mercer is entering his final season at Bath, who will want to keep hold of the 23-year-old.
Former England scrum-half Danny Care will be 34 when his contract with Harlequins expires. As his career winds down, he will be assessing his options.
Scotland centre Duncan Taylor signed a contract extension in 2018 with Saracens, and is set to spend this coming season in the Championship.
Bath’s Beno Obama signed a three-year deal in May 2018, and there will be plenty of interest in the loosehead across England.
Having signed a new deal in December 2017, Munster’s CJ Stander is entering the final year of his contract at Thomond Park.
Munster and Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony will be 31 on Thursday, and while he still could make the World Cup in 2023, the Lions will also be at the forefront of his mind.
Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland signed a new two-year deal April 2019, and with only 50 caps, he is no longer in contention for Wales.
Things you don't want to run into:
Rhys Priestland and Sam Underhill ? pic.twitter.com/01x36zcMTA
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 6, 2019
Former England winger Matt Banahan made the switch from Bath to Gloucester in 2018, signing a three-year contract.
France centre Virimi Vakatawa’s future is up in the air, and he has already attracted interest from Premiership clubs.
The Italy legend Sergio Parisse signed a one-year contract extension with Toulon in June after an impressive first season, which may see him to the end of his career.
Although Simon Zebo enters his final year with Racing 92, he has hinted during his time in Paris of a potential return to Munster.
The dual World Cup winner Jerome Kaino has a year left on his deal with Toulouse, by which time he will be 38.
Like Edinburgh back row teammates Watson and Ritchie, No8 Vilame Mata also has a year left of his time at Murrayfield.
The incumbent Scotland and Glasgow Warriors fly-half Adam Hastings signed a deal in December 2018, but that is drawing to a close.
Pieter-Steph du Toit
World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit signed a new deal with Western Province in May that will keep him in South Africa at least until the Lions tour.
Having signed a new deal in October 2018, Munster and Ireland winger Keith Earls will be 33 when his contract expires next year, and may be eyeing up lucrative deals towards the end of his career.
With so much uncertainty regarding some of Ireland’s players, Jack Carty is yet to sign a new deal with Connacht, and could fill a space elsewhere.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend extended his contract in 2018 to 2021, but it could well be extended again to the World Cup.
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