Bath Rugby can confirm that it has been agreed in principle that Butch James will be leaving the club at the end of the season to join Super 15 side Golden Lions.

The South African fly-half joined Bath in November 2007, after lifting the World Cup with the Springboks. In 58 appearances for Bath he has scored 327 points, with his inspirational attacking play and unforgiving defensive work making him a key member of the squad.

Head Coach Steve Meehan said “Butch is a very talented rugby player, and so we will obviously be disappointed to see him leave at the end of the season. He has been a great squad member, both on and off the pitch, and an inspirational player in many ways. I have absolutely no doubt, however, that he will still play a very important part for us in the remainder of this season, and will be aiming to leave the Club with a fantastic season completed.”

Butch said “My time at Bath has been the most enjoyable of my rugby career. I have made great friends, enjoyed the rugby we have played and have been amazed by the Bath supporters – by far the best set of supporters I have played for! I want to give myself the best possible shot at playing for South Africa in the World Cup, and I feel that is best achieved by returning home and being in the country. I would like to thank everyone at the Club for their support, and also the great fans of Bath Rugby who have been so fantastic in my time here.”