Bath are closing in on an extraordinary double-signing ahead of next season, with Henry Arundell and World Cup winner RG Snyman both on the verge of a move to the West Country club.
In a major boost for the Premiership’s appeal, Telegraph Sport understands that the pursuit of Arundell’s signature has resulted in a two-horse race between the England international either staying at Racing 92 – ruling him out of the summer tour to New Zealand – or returning to the city of his first senior school, Bath, as one of 23 hybrid contracts in conjunction with the Rugby Football Union.
It is understood, too, that the combined offer from the RFU and Bath has financially trumped that of the French aristocrats – and that Arundell might have to make a definitive decision on his future as early as next week.
Telegraph Sport exclusively reported in October that Gloucester and Bath were the two frontrunners to sign the England starlet, with a two-year option on the table from Racing 92, but that it is Johann van Graan’s club, currently second in the Premiership table, who have streaked clear of their West Country rivals.
Regardless of his future contractual situation, Arundell will be eligible for international duty in the 2024 Six Nations owing to the RFU’s “exceptional circumstances” clause, but the former London Irish back will be unavailable for next July’s tour of New Zealand unless he secures a move back to a Premiership club for the start of next season. Arundell started two matches for England at the World Cup, scoring five tries in the pool-stage win over Chile. On club duty this season, the 21-year-old scored a hat-trick on his Racing 92 debut, away at Toulon.
Up front, Bath are hopeful of also landing the signature of South African Snyman. Munster, the Springbok’s current club, confirmed last month that the lock would be leaving at the end of the current campaign after three injury-hit years with the Irish province.
It is understood that Bath should receive clarity on the 28-year-old’s decision as soon as the end of this week, with the expectation at Farleigh House that Snyman will be reprising his working relationship with Van Graan – the two having worked together for many years at Munster and South Africa – and fellow Springbok Thomas du Toit at the Rec next season after the club tabled a big-money offer and with several players out of contract at the end of this season.
According to South African outlet Rapport, the Stormers are also keen on landing Snyman, with the United Rugby Championship franchise tabling a dual-contract offer with SA Rugby in the region of £550,000. Rapport adds, however, that the provenance of the money to finance the deal is from private equity and there are concerns that the funds will not have cleared in time to secure an agreement.