CINDERFORD captain Mike Wilcox will depart the club after five years this summer for rivals Hartpury College.
The England Counties full-back, who skippered the Dockham Road outfit over the last two seasons, has agreed a deal to join the National League One runners-up ahead of the new season.
His signing comes after Hartpury wing and top try-scorer Jonas Mikalcius left the college side for Premiership giants Harlequins, while the team’s top points scorer, full-back Gareth Thompson, has returned to Cardiff Arms Park.
Wilcox, 24, has been one of Cinderford’s most consistent performers throughout a difficult time at the club, and his loss will be a huge blow moving forward.
He said it was a ’difficult decision’ to leave the Beavis Memorial Ground, but admitted his desire to stay in National One rather than follow the relegated Foresters to National Two South.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cinderford and loved my five years there,” he said.
“But the opportunity to play for a club who have been progressing and performing so well in National League One was too big an opportunity to pass up.
“It was a difficult decision but I want to be playing at the highest level I can for as long as I possibly can.
“Hartpury are an ambitious club competing at the top end in the national leagues and the brand of rugby they are renowned for playing should suit me down to the ground.
“I like to play with the ball in hand and I’m looking forward to being part of such a pacey, attacking back division.”
Wilcox has also represented Gloucestershire since joining Cinderford, and has worked with members of the Hartpury set-up in the past.
John Barnes, the new director of rugby at the college-based team, worked with Wilcox on the county side while head coach Mark Cornwall was a member of the coaching staff at Dockham Road.
He also joins ex-Cinderford man George Evans, who moved to Hartpury last summer.
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