After 12 years and more than 250 appearances for Newcastle Falcons, front-row forward Rob Vickers has announced he will retire from playing at the end of the current season.
The 36-year-old has been a central pillar of the Falcons’ surge to the Aviva Premiership semi-finals, and will remain very much part of their plans as they round off what has already been a remarkable season.
But as they prepare for their final home game of the campaign against Wasps this Saturday in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,100, Vickers has confirmed that the time has come to draw a line under a fabulous career which has seen the England Saxons forward running out 260 times in Falcons colours.
It’s a sad day for us all at the club as we bring you the news that our much-loved prop @robvickers81 will retire from playing at the end of the season. An incredible servant in his 260 outings over 12 years, we cannot thank you enough for your efforts https://t.co/3mwfclhr4Y pic.twitter.com/eY80VM8Ij2
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) May 1, 2018
“I’ve had a number of discussions with Dean Richards and, to be fair, I just think I’m ready for it,” said the Yorkshireman, who joined the Falcons following his studies at Durham University.
Playing in all but three of the Falcons’ 21 Aviva Premiership matches this season, Vickers scored a dramatic late match-winner in Newcastle’s last home win over Sale Sharks and was on the field during the dramatic climax at Leicester Tigers last Friday.
“I feel as though I’ve still been contributing to the team this season but I’ve always said I didn’t want to stay on too long and be that player who just hangs around, and eventually falls off a cliff,” said the loose-head, who converted to prop midway through a career which had began with him playing at hooker.
“For me this is the perfect time with the team flying high, with me still playing a genuine part, and it just feels like the moment to step aside and let someone else come through to keep this team moving forward.”
Remaining loyal to the Falcons for more than a decade, Vickers said: “It has been a lot of games and a lot of years, and it’s hard to put into words how much this club means to me.
“I always wanted to be a one-club man, and even when the Falcons got relegated I made the decision that I wanted to stay here and help us to move in the right direction. I’d like to think I’ve played a small part in that journey, and when I do hang up my boots in hopefully three games’ time I’m leaving the club in a better place.”