A NUMBER of legendary names hung up their boots this season, so who would make an XV of the best players to retire this year?
Brilliant players such as Adam Jones, Donncha O’Callaghan and Bryan Habana have all now decided to call time on their glittering careers.
There are also a few superstars who played starring roles in the successes for both club and country who have taken to the pitch for the final time as professionals.
Fullback: DANIELLE WATERMAN
England’s longest-serving women’s Test player announced her retirement from international rugby with immediate effect this week. The 33-year-old was an instrumental part of the Red Roses’ 2014 Rugby World Cup-winning squad, scoring in the final against Canada.
Winger: TOMMY BOWE
Bowe announced his retirement from rugby at the end of this season in a poem. The 69-times capped Ireland winger took to Twitter and said that he would be bringing an end to his playing career shortly.
I’ve spent most of my career in Belfast,
At first George said I wasn’t very fast,
I eventually found my gears,
Had some incredible years,
But it’s time to tell you – this is my last! pic.twitter.com/KZa8Rwk4G1
— Tommy Bowe (@TommyBowe14) January 15, 2018
Centre: AURELIEN ROUGERIE
The 37-year-old – who has scored 33 tries in 90 European appearances – will retire after 19 years at Clermont, captaining them to a 22-16 victory over Bath Rugby in the 2007 Challenge Cup final at Twickenham Stoop.
Centre: ROB HORNE
Former Wallabies centre and Super Rugby-winning Waratah Rob Horne was forced to retire after suffering nerve damage to his arm in a game in the UK Premiership. A statement from Horne’s club, Northampton Saints, said the 34-Test Australian had sustained “career-ending nerve damage to his right arm” and had made the decision to retire from rugby after consulting with neurologists in England.
Winger: BRYAN HABANA
Decided to hang up his boots following a number of injuries. Habana ends his international career with 124 caps for South Africa, having played at the 2007, 2011, and 2015 Rugby World Cup tournaments. He is the second-highest try-scorer in international rugby, with 67 tries.
So it’s my turn to say Thank You: . The inevitable moment has come knocking on my door and I’ve welcomed it in for a drink. . It’s been more than a year of hoping, trying, pushing and willing to get back on the field for one last time, to taste the sweet victory or encounter that gut-wrenching despair. To hear the roar of the crowd or grab the pill out of the air. To make that last bone crunching tackle or score that last game winning try. But it’s unfortunately just not to be. I, like most, would have liked my career to have ended differently, but sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way we hope for. . So at the end of this season, it’s time to say goodbye and thank you to the game I so dearly love. . To try and sum up the past 16 years and how quickly they’ve flown by or even begin to describe how amazing the journey has been is impossible. . I would though like to express my gratitude: . • First and foremost, to God for blessing me with the talent to play this beautiful game. • To my wife Janine, Timothy and our newborn Gabriel, for your support, sacrifice and love to follow me to all corners of the earth so that I can pursue my dreams. • To my family and friends, far and wide, who wore their hearts on their sleeves as much as I did. • To the coaches, team-mates, medical and support staff in all the teams I was involved in. • To every opponent that made the battle tough and worthwhile. • To all my sponsors over the years who believed in me enough to support me on the journey. • To the fans, who make the game what it is. • To the critics, not to prove you wrong but so that I could prove to myself I could. • To the media, who take the game to households the world over. • To the lessons learnt, through the good times and the bad. • To the friendships made and experiences a plenty. . But most of all to Rugby, because for me it truly is a game made in heaven. . As a close friend one said: “memories are all we have.” And I’m immensely grateful for the memories I take with me into the next chapter. . With much respect . BH11