As the excitement builds towards the draws for next season’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions, the time has come to say goodbye to some stalwarts of European club rugby.

Aurelien Rougerie may have signed on for a 19th season at French champions ASM Clermont Auvergne to take one final shot at winning the Champions Cup after three falls at the final hurdle, and Jean-Baptiste Poux has opted to make himself available for one more season at Bordeaux-Begles, but there will be some significant absentees next season.

Leading the exit will be the former Toulouse and France skipper Thierry Dusautoir, who made 88 appearances in European competitions with Bordeaux-Begles, Colomiers, Biarritz Olympique and Toulouse. He captained Toulouse to their record breaking fourth European Cup title in Paris in 2010 and also featured in two final defeats to Munster in Cardiff 2006 with Biarritz Olympique and 2008 with Toulouse.

The 38-year-old Julien Bonnaire and Thibault Privat, who ended their careers at Lyon last season, have both hung up their boots after 155 games between them in Europe. Privat won the Challenge Cup with Clermont in 2007, while Bonnaire was in the Clermont teams that lost in the Champions Cup finals of 2013 and 2015.

Three-time European Cup winners Leinster Rugby are losing two front five stalwarts in Mike McCarthy and Mike Ross. McCarthy made 84 appearances in the European Cup, while Ross won three medals. He was the tight-head anchor for the Leinster scrum when they completed back-to-back European Cup wins in 2011 and 2012 and then helped them win the Challenge Cup in 2013.

Saracens duo Neil de Kock and Jim Hamilton won’t be part of the team chasing a Champions Cup treble next season after deciding to retire. De Kock played in Saracens’ 2014 European Cup final defeat, while Scottish international Hamilton came off the bench in the 2016 and 2017 Champions Cup final wins.

The former All Blacks No 8 Chris Masoe brought down the curtain on his glittering career by taking the conversion with the last kick of the match in Racing 92’s TOP 14 semi-final defeat to Clermont. The 38-year-old played in three Champions Cup finals and finished with two winners medals from his time at RC Toulon.

Another Kiwi, Harlequins outside half Nick Evans, is stepping into coaching next season at the London club. He won the Challenge Cup with Quins in 2011 and was a runner-up in 2016 during a nine season spell.

Here are some of the notable players who have hung up their boots and won;t be playing in Europe next season:

Thierry Dusautoir
Debut: Bordeaux-Begles v Saracens, 29 September, 2001
Apps: 88 (78 / 10)
Seasons: 16
Played for: Bordeaux-Begles, Colomiers, Biarritz Olympique, Toulouse
Titles: 2010 European Cup with Toulouse
Finals: 2006 European Cup with Biarritz Olympique, 2008 with Toulouse

Mike McCarthy
Debut: Wasps v Overmach Parma, 12 October, 2002
Apps: 84 (39 / 45)
Seasons: 15
Played for: Wasps, Connacht Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Leinster Rugby
Titles: 0
Finals: 0

Julien Bonnaire
Debut: Bourgoin v Bristol, 3 September, 2001
Apps: 78 (72 / 6)
Seasons: 15
Played for: Bourgoin, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Lyon
Titles: 0
Finals: 2013, 2015 Champions Cup finals with Clermont

Thibault Privat
Debut: Beziers v Connacht, 7 October, 2000
Apps: 77 (59 / 18)
Seasons: 16
Played for: Beziers, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Montpellier
Titles: 2007 Challenge Cup with Clermont
Finals:

Roger Wilson
Debut: Ulster Rugby v Newport Gwent Dragons, 7 December, 2003
Apps: 75 (71 / 4)
Seasons: 14
Played for: Ulster Rugby, Northampton Saints
Titles: 0
Finals: 2011 European Cup final with Northampton Saints

Mike Ross
Debut: Harlequins v Connacht Rugby, 20 October, 2006
Apps: 65 (57 / 8)
Seasons: 11
Played for: Harlequins, Leinster Rugby
Titles: 2011, 2012 European Cup with Leinster; 2013 Challenge Cup with Leinster
Finals: 0

Neil de Koch
Debut: Saracens v Glasgow Warriors, 22 October, 2006
Apps: 64 (50 /14)
Seasons: 11
Played for: Saracens
Titles: 0
Finals: 2014 European Cup with Saracens

Pascal Pape
Debut: Bourgoin v Viadana, 7 October, 2001
Apps: 61 (36 / 25)
Seasons: 14
Played for: Bourgoin, Castres Olympique, Stade Francais Paris
Titles: 0
Finals: 2011 Challenge Cup with Stade Francais

Jamie Cudmore
Debut: Scarlets v Glasgow Warriors, 17 January, 2003
Apps: 59 (48 / 11)
Seasons: 13
Played for: Scarlets, Grenoble, ASM Clermont Auvergne
Titles: 2007 Challenge Cup with Clermont
Finals: 2013, 2015 Champions Cup finals with Clermont

Sean Lamont
Debut: Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier, 6 December, 2003
Apps: 59 (43 / 15)
Seasons: 13
Played for: Glasgow Warriors, Northampton Saints, Scarlets
Titles: 0
Finals: 0

Quintin Geldenhuys
Debut: Viadana v Northampton Saints, 22 October, 2005
Apps: 50 (28 / 22)
Seasons: 12
Played for: Viadana, Aironi, Zebre
Titles: 0
Finals: 0

Jim Hamilton
Debut: Leicester Tigers v ASM Clermont Auvergne, 22 October, 2005
Apps: 49 (42 / 7)
Seasons: 12
Played for: Leicester Tigers, Edinburgh Rugby, Gloucester Rugby, Montpellier, Saracens
Titles: 2016, 2017 Champions Cup with Saracens
Finals: 0

Nick Evans
Debut: Harlequins v Stade Francais Paris, 6 December, 2008
Apps: 47 (34 / 13)
Seasons: 9
Played for: Harlequins
Titles: 2011 Challenge Cup with Harlequins
Finals: 2016 Challenge Cup with Harlequins

Chris Masoe
Debut: Castres Olympique v Leinster Rugby, 12 December, 2008
Apps: 47 (47 / 0)
Seasons: 8
Played for: Castres Olympique, RC Toulon, Racing 92
Titles: 2013, 2015 Champions Cup with RC Toulon
Finals: 2016 Champions Cup final with Racing 92