SCOTLAND centre Chris Harris has left newly-demoted Newcastle Falcons for Gloucester, citing the need to play top-level rugby as the reason for the move. The 28-year-old signed a new contract with Newcastle as recently as February, but has now activated a relegation release clause.
“It’s all happened very quickly, to be honest,” Harris said on the Gloucester website. “I’ve loved every minute of my time with the Falcons and will be forever grateful to them. However, I’m at the stage of my career where I need to be performing at the highest level of the club game.
“Watching from outside, I’ve been so impressed with what Gloucester Rugby have done over the past couple of seasons and can’t wait to link up with my team-mates and start to contribute. They seem to have a great team culture, and play some entertaining rugby. I’ve always enjoyed playing at Kingsholm so it promises to be an exciting new chapter.”
Harris, first capped in late 2017, made 103 first-team appearances for Newcastle. “Chris has been a great servant who has steadily improved during his time at Newcastle Falcons, and we wish him all the best for the future,” Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said.
David Humphreys, Richards’ opposite number at Kingsholm, sees the signing of Harris as part of a larger squad-building exercise he aims to carry out over the close season. “We’re delighted that Chris has agreed to join Gloucester Rugby and to add another international calibre player to the squad, one who also possesses significant Premiership experience,” he said.
“As is the case with all Premiership clubs, there are times when the squad is tested to the max due to injuries and international commitments, for example. Chris is a proven talent, a quality player and will add to our options in the back line.”
Now with eight caps, Harris is part of Scotland coach Gregor Townsend’s preliminary squad of 44 for the Rugby World Cup, and his ability to fill in on the wing as well as at centre gives him a strong chance of being selected in the final group of 31 for the tournament itself. Gloucester did not specify any details of their new signing’s contract, other than to state he had joined them “for next season”.
The confirmation of Harris’s move comes the day after former Edinburgh back-row forward Luke Hamilton announced he will be playing for Japanese club on a short-term deal. Capped three times for Scotland, the 27-year-old Hamilton was omitted from Townsend’s squad.