Jonny May: England wing to rejoin Gloucester from Leicester Tigers at end of season

Jonny May in action for Leicester Tigers
Jonny May is fifth on the list of all-time leading try-scorers for England

England wing Jonny May will rejoin Gloucester from fellow Premiership club Leicester Tigers at the end of the 2019-20 season.

The 30-year-old moved to Welford Road from Gloucester in the summer of 2017.

May said there was "only ever one club I really wanted to play for" once he had decided to leave the Tigers.

"I'm grateful to David Humphreys [director of rugby] and everyone at Gloucester who have found a way for me to rejoin," he said.

May is fifth on the list of all-time leading try-scorers for England, with 29 tries in his 56 international appearances, and was part of the team which lost in the final of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

He scored 30 tries in 44 appearances for Leicester and said he was "proud" of his time with the club, adding: "For numerous reasons it hasn't worked out for me to stay on at Leicester Tigers, which is a shame."

Humphreys said the deal to take May back to Kingsholm - which the club says will go through on 1 July - was completed during lockdown, with no Premiership games played since 8 March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"We've been talking to Jonny for a little while, and were very close to an agreement before the Premiership was postponed and our discussions had to be put on hold," former Ireland fly-half Humphreys told Gloucester's website.

"With the changing landscape in English rugby and beyond, we very much appreciated Jonny's pragmatic approach to our discussions."

May came through Gloucester's academy and helped the Cherry and Whites win the 2015 European Challenge Cup during his first spell with the club.

'One of the world's best wingers'

Leicester have struggled for on-field results in the three years since May moved to Welford Road.

Ten-time English champions Leicester missed out on the play-offs for the first time in 14 years in 2018, and more recently they have battled to avoid relegation.

The points deduction imposed on relegated Saracens prevented Leicester from being bottom of the Premiership when the competition was suspended.

May was one of six England internationals who missed the start of the season for Leicester because of World Cup duties and, despite his return, the club struggled to move up the table.

"I gave 100% every time I put the shirt on and I have no regrets," May told Leicester's website.

"It really has developed my game and it's brought the best out in me as a player."

While May is a high-profile departure, Tigers have successfully managed to negotiate new deals for his England team-mates George Ford, Ellis Genge, Ben Youngs and his brother - and Tigers captain - Tom in recent months.

Ben Youngs told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Without doubt, he's one of the world's best wingers and it's a huge loss to Leicester.

"We've been lucky to have a guy of his quality with us over the past few seasons. It's sad to see him go but I'm delighted for him that he's managed to get to Gloucester, where it all started for him."

The scrum-half added: "I'm sure he's looking forward to returning back there, he will be missed and I won't be looking forward to playing against him next year. It'll be a challenge to stop him."

Leicester head coach Geordan Murphy said piecing the squad together, managing the salary cap and balancing international talent with homegrown players "is a huge challenge".

He continued: "Unfortunately, the international game restricts the number of appearances players can make for their clubs in the modern game and, with the strain that inflating salaries under the salary cap has put on clubs, you need to find the right balance that best works for you across an entire season while still being able to build strength in depth across the squad.

"We have made no secret of wanting to change and needing to improve, with a focus this year on bolstering the forward pack to provide the platform for an exciting backline at its best."