LUDOVIC MERCIER and Gloucester Rugby have agreed to part company by mutual consent.
The French fly-half, who has made more than 100 appearances in two spells with the club, will pursue other playing options in Europe with immediate effect.
Mercier first signed for Gloucester under former head coach Philippe Saint-Andre in 2001-02 before he returned to France to pursue his international ambitions.
He returned to Gloucester in 2005 and over the last two seasons built on his record to make 115 appearances in all competitions.
Dean Ryan, head coach of the current Guinness Premiership leaders, said: "We wish Ludo every success in the future. His kicking game has served Gloucester well over the last 6 years and on behalf of everyone we thank Ludo for his commitment and service to the club."
Mercier, 30, added: "Gloucester has been a really special place for me and I want to thank everyone involved with the club - particularly the supporters - for making my time here so enjoyable. It is right for my career that I move on at this time but I leave with many good memories."
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).