Get Newsletter

The dramatic route back to SA for Bath flank

NEWS: South African flank Chris Cloete has announced his plan to retire at the end of the season and will do so in dramatic fashion on a trek through Africa back to his country of birth.


Bath reported that Cloete and fellow South African GJ van Velze will retire after the duo spent the last two years at the Rec, having arrived with Head of Rugby Johann van Graan in 2022.

Cloete made his senior Sharks debut in 2012 in the second-tier domestic competition and a year later he turned out for Western Province.

After a brief stint in Sri Lanka, Cloete made his way back to Cape Town where he represented the country’s oldest club, Hamilton. A stand-out 2015 saw him selected for the Western Province Currie Cup side.

After his move to the Southern Kings in 2016, he was named to the South African A team for the two-match series against the French Barbarians in 2017.

A month later he signed a three-year deal with Munster and eventually stayed until 2002 when he made the move to Bath.

Cloete is now returning to South Africa with his family and dogs and plans to drive back through Europe and Africa. Along the way, he will hand out kit and share his experience in schools and communities.


Having loved Bath and his team he wants to give back to the community through the Bath Rugby Foundation.

The versatile Van Velze has over 150 Premiership appearances, with spells with Northampton Saints and Worcester Warriors prior to joining Bath.

“I am very proud to have been part of Chris and Gerrit-Jan’s rugby journeys across the rugby world,” Van Graan said after their exits were announced.

“A massive congratulations to both players for the careers that they have had, the memories we have shared, the influence they had on others, and most importantly for the great men that they are.


“Gerrit-Jan is a player that I have coached at Affies, the Bulls, and now Bath. I will remember him as one of the best Leaders that I have coached and as a player who had a deep understanding of the game of rugby. I wish GJ and his family the very best for the next step in their journey.

“Chris had an amazing rugby journey that took him all over the world. I am grateful to have spent many years coaching Chris at Munster and Bath.

“I will remember Chris as one of the toughest and fiercest competitors that I have come across, whether it be on the training field or in the game.

“He was one of those players that everyone enjoyed having around, his laugh is infectious. Chris, thank you for the memories you leave us with and enjoy the trip down the west coast of Africa to home.”

Join free

South Africa v Great Britain | Men's Final | Sevens Repechage | Full Match Replay

Olympic Repechage - Day 1

Boks Office | Episode 11 | URC Final Preview

Walk the Talk | Eddie Jones | The Australian Job

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 17

All Blacks | In Their Own Words S2 | Episode 1: The Final

The perfect pre-Olympic preparation for France! Men's HSBC SVNS Madrid Day Three Highlights

Australia finish with GOLD! Women's HSBC SVNS Madrid Day Three Highlights

Greatness | Dan Carter

Write A Comment