Van der Merwe to exit Kingspan after signing for Cardiff Blues
Cardiff Blues last night confirmed the capture of Ulster lock Franco van der Merwe for next season.
The once-capped Springbok arrived at Ulster in the summer of 2014 and has made 68 appearances for the province.
A reliable performer, he was voted onto the PRO12 team of the season in his first year and won the Ulster Rugby Writers' award for his second campaign.
This season, however, he has been hampered by injuries and recently lost his place in the starting side thanks to the emergence of Kieran Treadwell. Given his NIQ status, he was never going to be retained by Les Kiss for another term.
"I'm really looking forward to joining Cardiff Blues," said the 33-year-old. "When I was approached earlier this season I spoke to Nick Williams and George Earle, who I played with for the Lions, and they had so many good things to say about the club.
"They were really positive about what's happening and going to happen and made it an easy decision for me.
"After three years with Ulster this is a new challenge and I'm looking forward to contributing to Cardiff Blues.
"Whenever I have played them it's been a tough game, especially at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park where I have been on the wrong end of the result a couple of times.
"We've also stayed at the Vale and the facilities there are great."
Meanwhile, Aviva Premiership club Sale have terminated the contract of back Tom Arscott.
Sharks chief executive Jon Dorsett said in a brief statement that the decision followed a disciplinary investigation and hearing.
Arscott had been suspended since January 4 over an alleged leak of information to Bristol ahead of the clubs' Premiership clash three days earlier.
Dorsett said: "Sale Sharks have today terminated the contract of Tom Arscott with immediate effect following a disciplinary investigation and hearing."