Edinburgh name 13 players who will leave club at end of this season

Four academy players including Rudi Brown also being let go

Henry Pyrgos is one of 13 players who will leave Edinburgh at end of this season. Image: ©Craig Watson
Henry Pyrgos is one of 13 players who will leave Edinburgh at end of this season. Image: ©Craig Watson

EDINBURGH have named a list of 13 players who will leave the club at the end of the season, including Scotland internationalists Nick Haining (36 appearances), Henry Pyrgos (82 appearances), Damien Hoyland (104 appearances) and Jaco van der Walt (96 appearances).

Fijian international Lee-Roy Atalifo (33 appearances) is also departing the Scottish capital, as is fellow props Nick Auterac (after four appearances since his arrival last summer), Jamie Jack (two appearances since November 2022) and Harrison Courtney (nine appearances since November 2021).

Hometown duo winger Jack Blain (26 appearances) and centre Cammy Hutchison (19 appearances), along with English second-row Pierce Phillips (14 appearances) and Irish stand-off Bruce Houston (no appearances) are also leaving the club. It had already been announced that full-back Henry Immelman (25 appearances) is returning to his native South Africa to join the Vodacom Bulls next season.

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Elsewhere, four players depart the Edinburgh Rugby Academy in the shape of prop Dan Gamble, back-row Rudi Brown (one of Scotland stand-out performers in a generally disappointing 2023 U20s Six Nations), stand-off Matt Russell and wing Ben Evans all move on.

“This group of academy players are being actively supported by Edinburgh Rugby to find new clubs, with playing opportunities progressing but not yet finalised,” said a statement issued by the club.

“This is never an easy time of the season,” said Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair, who is also stepping down at the end of the season. “Every player has given their all to the jersey and we can’t thank them enough for their commitment and attitude when representing this club.

“Damien [Hoyland] is a club centurion; a player who epitomises what it means to play for Edinburgh, while the likes of Jaco [van der Walt] and Henry [Pyrgos] have both given so much to the club during their time in the capital.

“Those guys are just to name a few. Every player departing has worn the jersey with pride and that’s all we can ever ask. It’s been an absolute pleasure coaching them.

“Every player moving on has created their own piece of unique history with Edinburgh Rugby. We wish them all the best in their next endeavour.”

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About David Barnes 3816 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. It’s worth bearing in mind that players are sometimes released for reasons other than their current or perceived future playing ability. Attitude, financial considerations etc can all come into play. Not saying that this is the case with any of those here but it’s worth bearing in mind.

    • Can’t be financial when they offer 150 k for average journey men

      Attitude. Well I know 3 out of 4 of the academy players including young brown and that is not an issue ,
      Mike blair and bob chrystie should hold there heads up and tell the truth . Young gamble is getting a real hard time from the academy currently ( allegations , let him go and play rugby
      brown only got told this week giving him a struggle to find a club , it sounds like they strung him along during six nations , mixed messages coming out of Edinburgh
      Blair says they will help them find a club =. Super 6 really

      Why is a coach that is leaving making these calls

  2. Don’t understand. Cammy Hutchinson looked a real good prospect. As did Blain with limited opportunities. Haining has gone well for Scotland. Particularly in Paris 2021. Rudi Brown is an absurd decision. And Dan Gamble looked a likely tighthead. The rest I get. Ashman,Sebastian and Steele coming in. OK. Hope these young guys get good gigs for next season and beyond. Will the next head coach look at his squad and think there are a lot of holes need filling.

  3. So squad for next season at present looks like this
    Boffelli, Paterson H;
    Graham, V D Merwe, Goosen;
    Currie, Bennett, Lang, Dean, Scott C;
    Kinghorn, Savala, Healy;
    Vellacott, Shiel, Steele S;
    Schoeman, Venter, Hislop, Jones M;
    McInally, Cherry, Ashman, Harrison, McBurney;
    Nel, Sebastian, De Bruin, Williams;
    Hodgson, Gilchrist, Sykes, Young, Skinner;
    Ritchie, Crosbie, Watson, Boyle;
    Muncaster, Mata;

    I wouldn’t be surprised if McInally, like Hogg, is aiming for the world cup and possibly retiring after that.
    Clear need for additonal back rower in the squad.
    And a couple of back 3 players
    If Sweeney and Henry are not leaving, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both of them is getting a full contract, as they have both been in the Academy a long time.

    Disappointed to see Gamble and Brown being let go, as they both have huge potential, but it may be that their impressive form in age grade rugby was due to being bigger than their peers, and that advantage doesn’t carry on beyond age grade rugby. I hope I am wrong and they take an alternative career path to the top

    • To Moody Blue.
      Remember seeing a video of the lad Gamble a few years ago playing for Kelso at primary school level.
      He was double the size of any other young player
      His teammates just gave him the ball and he simply ran through opposition teams at will.
      That’s how he would be picked up in the system at the time .
      But other players have caught up now while he has stalled.
      Stuart Hoggs older brother Graham is another example .exactly the same thing happened there

      • Now you remind me Daffy I saw a video or two of him as a youngster and totally agree. I thought then that he needed to be careful or he wouldn’t develop as a player if he was just to be used as a wr4ecking ball against smaller kids his age.

    • On reflection re the Academy 4 it looks like an attempt to clear out those not involved in u20 next year at the younger age of Academy and then decisions on full pro contract for the older lads who, as you say have been there a long time. Will be interesting to see Glasgow’s leavers. If it is similar profile then it appears it may be a block cull depending on age and where you are in a two year Academy contract. If so very disingenuous on Edinburgh/SRU not to say so and create speculation. Therefore is it u20 Academies from here on in, with Super Series for 20+. If so, Super Series has to be for predominantly 20-25 aged players.

  4. There’s a real lack of foresight from Scottish Rugby in some of this.

    Some (not all) of these boys are at the “expensive luxury” end of the scale and probably need to go, but others (Brown for example) should be tied in rather than looking outside for SQ players. The Merchi / Strath etc conveyor belt has been productive in recent years.

    Guys like Jack Blain aren’t likely to be short of offers as a big go-forward winger but there are equally questions about his obvious defensive frailties. Dan Gamble being let go by the Academy is not someting I can really comment on but is clearly hard for the player.

    Haining, Pyrgos, Hoyland, JvdW – simple cost cutting that is happening everywhere. Feel sorry for the boys but it is the way of the world.

    Having watched Edinburgh since the 1970s, I can safely say that “this too will pass” and MB’s departure will be just another ripple in the pond. If I remember correctly we were top dogs with Glasgow in a bit of difficulty not too long ago.

    The one ever-present issue is the inability of Scottish Rugby to put a youth system in place that generates quality players coming off the conveyor belt and who fit into the pro teams in the way that Ireand seem to. Nathan Chamberain, who I thought was really good for us, is a perfect example, as is Robbie McCallum from Glasgow, both of whom are now in the English Championship with London Scottish.

    Many of the other boys coming out of the U20s look jaded having lost all their games at international level. Not where Scotland should be.

    All a bit disappointing tbh

  5. As many have said – surprised at Rudi Brown although haven’t much first hand experience watching him. No surprise with others to be honest and i would have added de Bruin at loosehead to the pile and probably McBurney who will now become 4th/5th choice hooker. I don’t believe we are over covered in the back row with Haining departing – you need at least 6 good back rowers and with international call-offs we don’t have that many if there are a few injuries. Boyle and Muncaster did really well last year but have had less chance this year. At international time if Watson, Ritchie and Crosbie are all in the squad then I think we only have Mata and Boyle/Muncaster – an injury and who else do you have. I think Leinster have about 9 good back rowers.

    There is hopefully some signings still to come at Tight head, Centre, wing and back row for me. Whilst our back three are great at their best you don’t often get them all at the same time and with Hoyland going. Lets hope for a couple of top signings rather than the mediocre signings so far (Ashman excepted).

  6. Interesting 14 departures , the trouble with Edinburgh is they never seem to make great signings , and some of those going seem not to have set the heather alight. It’s tough for the younger ones there are not a huge number of vacancies out there in either Wales , England or France one wishes them well.

  7. Academy lads …..Gamble and Brown very much a surprise.
    Russell and Evans have had serious injuries to deal with.
    They will get somewhere to show what they are about with consistent game time. All good players who will probably thrive out of the Academy, probably be better for them tbh.

  8. From what I hear from friends of Rudi Brown’s family, the young lad (who misses being in under 20’s next year by less than 10 days) was let go by Edinburgh. To me he was a standout player of the u20’s 6 nations alongside R Simpson. I’m sure the boy will have no problem getting a contract elsewhere! Apparently his parents have lived in Berwick for nearly 3 years which begs the question of whether England is an option as Scotland obviously dont want him. Real shame that Scottish born and bred talent might go elsewhere. Crazy decision by Edinburgh.

  9. The surprising releases for me are Rudi Brown …who looked , to me, along with R Simpson, Scotlands most promising and pro ready U20 player. Cammy Hutchinson who looked like he was getting better and better with games…and then suddenly wasn’t being selected. JDVW who looked a really solid 10 when played…again..got dropped out of contention for little reason..favouring a natural 15 being shoe horned in at 10(and who wasn’t succeeding)

    The rest?…meh.. they weren’t adding anything and needed to go.

  10. Rudi Brown being released by Edinburgh academy must be deemed not going to make it as a pro
    Yet he’s in a Super 6 squad that aim to progress up to pro game .
    Someone please explain
    Seems if you play well in Scotland under 20 set up it’s the kiss of death and you’re jettisoned unless your names Townsend .

      • Septic +9.
        Doesn’t matter how bad any Townsend plays the Red Sea opens regardless .
        Not right .

      • its what he typed, obv not what he meant. Shame he isn’t as hot on literacy as conspiracy

      • Townsend was Crap at 15 for Glasgow A .
        well beaten by Ayrshire Bulls tonight .super 6.
        In fact the whole Glasgow team were rubbish .
        If these are the best reserve Glasgow pros available I’d be worried
        Townsend is contracted to Ayrshire Bulls in super 6 .so how does that work out when he returns to them
        Will the starting 15 tonight be dropped to accommodate him .you bet he will

    • Sebastian is already coming in at tight head – I assumed to replace a retiring Nel, not to replace a probably retiring Atalifo.
      Some really poor players at loose head being released, what possessed Edin to sign them.
      I feel for Hoyland. Never the very top but very dependable and never fails to give his all, great squad player – might end up at Scotstoun
      The very surprising leaver is Rudi Brown. Edin back row is stacked, but I’m guessing Edin made Brown a derisory offer and he’s off to pastures new. A real prospect, big lad and will fill out more, not 20 until december and a stand out. Another Darge like error from Edinburgh

  11. Fair enough I suppose apart from Cammy Hutchison, he hasn’t had a decent chance IMO, he potentially offers an Alex Dunbar type input.

  12. Utterly depressing that so many promising young players are launched onto the scrap heap whilst the flood of foreign signings continue apace. It’s going to be a long two years enduring that damage that the Dodson cartel is wreaking on our game. It will take years to recover.

    • If he’s been let go by Edinburgh Academy he’s deemed not to make it as a pro .
      Yet Super 6 is a way onto the pro ladder .
      Could someone explain please what the pfuck is going on
      Kiss of death playing for Scotland under 20 ‘s .
      Unless your name is a Townsend .


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