Ospreys Rugby can confirm that hooker Richard Hibbard will leave the Liberty Stadium at the end of the season after signing a contract with Aviva Premiership side Gloucester.
30-year old Hibbard, who graduated through the ranks in Ospreylia via Taibach and Swansea RFC’s, made his 171st regional appearance in Friday night’s win over Castres after making his debut from the bench against Munster in September 2004. Capped 26 times for Wales, he featured in all three tests for the Lions this summer.
Andy Lloyd, Rugby Operations Manager at the Ospreys, confirmed Hibbard’s move.
“Richard will leave the Ospreys at the end of the season” said Lloyd.
“Although contracted to the region beyond the end of the current season, until summer 2015, Richard approached us to discuss his future, as is normal in these situations, in order to seek longer-term security for himself and his family in the light of reported interest elsewhere.
“He was advised that given the current uncertainty surrounding the Welsh game we were not in a position to engage in such discussions at this moment in time. With so many unknown variables at the moment, we are unable to provide Richard the long-term security he was after so he was granted permission to speak to other clubs.
“Richard has been a big part of what the Ospreys have achieved over the last 10 years so it is always going to be a blow to lose someone who has featured in four league successes. As a business we will continue to strive to make the right decisions for the long-term future of Ospreys Rugby, regardless of how difficult those decisions may be.”
Speaking about his move, Hibbard commented:
“I’m absolutely gutted to be leaving my home region, where I’ve been all my career. It’s unfortunate that circumstances mean there isn’t the funding in place to allow boys who want to play in Wales to stay in Wales.
“I’m extremely grateful for the support I’ve had from everybody at the Ospreys, on and off the field, and from the fans as well, who have always been behind me through good and bad times. I’ve always had a fantastic relationship with our supporters and I’ve been proud to represent them.
“This is a new challenge for me and the family and I’m excited about joining a club close to home with traditional, old school values and great supporters like the Ospreys have. Those were the key factors for me in deciding where to go. I’ll remain an Osprey and look forward to coming back to the Liberty in the future, even if it’s just as a fan.”