"Serious Knee Injury" - England Centre Retires with Immediate Effect - Ruck

“Serious Knee Injury” – England Centre Retires with Immediate Effect

Gloucester Rugby centre and fan favourite, Mark Atkinson, has announced his retirement from rugby due to a problematic injury. The midfielder had been with the Cherry and Whites for over a decade, and suffered a serious knee injury early last season, ruling him out for the 2022/23 campaign.

After a lengthy rehabilitation period, ‘Aki’ began his return to rugby at the start of the 2023/24 season, starting against Hartpury in the Premiership Rugby Cup. He went on to make three Gallagher Premiership appearances before making the difficult decision to retire from the game following medical advice.

Atkinson joined Gloucester in 2014, after impressing in the Championship for Bedford Blues, and went on to play 168 times over his ten years at Kingsholm. His performances in Cherry & White led to call ups for the Barbarians and England, for whom he was capped against Tonga in 2021.

Mark Atkinson of Gloucester Rugby is tackled by Tom Curry of Sale Sharks during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Sale Sharks at Kingsholm Stadium on January 2, 2020 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK/Gallagher)

Aki was awarded a testimonial year this year for his decade service to Gloucester Rugby. Whilst the 34-year-old is stepping back from his playing responsibilities, Atkinson will remain with the Club, taking up a role on matchdays and with the commercial team.

“The decision to retire from a sport I love has been a very difficult one. I felt optimistic at the start of the season that I was in a good place with my knee, but it became apparent quite quickly that a full recovery wasn’t on the cards.

Mark Atkinson of England during the Match between England and Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium on 19 June 2022. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“Like many players who make this decision, my priority is my family and being able to run around with my young daughter, Sydney. Following medical advice, continuing my playing career had the potential to impact that and so for that reason it was, in the end, straight forward.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank my teammates who I’ve played with over my 10 years at Kingsholm. I’ve had many highs and some pretty low lows during that time and my teammates have been there for all of it. I’m very grateful to them.

“Still a chance” – How England can win the 2024 Six Nations next weekend

Despite Ireland holding the advantage, thanks to their bonus points, the competition is far from decided, leaving room for various outcomes among the trio.

Next Saturday, all eyes will be on Dublin as Ireland hosts Scotland at 4:45 pm, while England faces off against France in a high-stakes clash kicking off at 8:00 pm.

For a comprehensive preview of the upcoming matches and insights into the pivotal England vs. Ireland showdown, Stephen Ferris provides an expert analysis.

Stay tuned for the permutations of Super Saturday below…

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How Ireland Might Secure the Championship Despite a Loss

Even if Ireland falls to Scotland, there’s still a path to the Championship. If they manage to secure a losing bonus point along with a try bonus point, they’ll reach 18 points, making it impossible for any other team to surpass them.

Alternatively, if Ireland loses to Scotland but England fails to secure a win against France, Ireland would be on at least 16 points, with England only able to reach 14 points with a draw.

Even with just one bonus point from their match against Scotland and England winning in France without a bonus point, Ireland would still edge ahead with 17 points, leaving England on 16. This scenario would mark a historic first for a team not winning the most games in the Six Nations yet clinching the championship.