Wales Star Rhys Webb Announces Retirement Ahead of 2023 Rugby World Cup - Ruck

Wales Star Rhys Webb Announces Retirement Ahead of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Wales and British & Irish Lions scrum-half Rhys Webb has announced his international retirement, ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The 34-year-old shared the news on social media, after he had already been named in Warren Gatland’s training squad for the competition.

Webb becomes the third Wales legend to announce international retirement, following on from Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric. Webb has been linked with moves abroad in the past, with French D2 club Biarritz named to have been interested in the Welshman’s signature.

Super Rugby sides, and MLR teams in the United States are also reportedly keen to bring Webb outside of Europe.

Rhys Webb of Bath Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Bristol Bears at The Recreation Ground, Bath on March 1. – PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Webb wrote on his Instagram account: “Having the opportunity to play for Wales again recently has been a huge honour and I am proud to have been named as part of the World Cup training squad.

“However, whilst I would have relished the chance to end my career playing for a Welsh region, the present uncertainty and difficulties in Welsh rugby, meant there was little opportunity for a contract that offered security for the coming years, as I see out my professional career.

“As such, when an opportunity to play abroad arose during the off season, enabling me to provide greater career security for myself and my family, I decided to accept the offer.

“I feel that after achieving my goal of returning to the Wales set-up, it is the right time now for me to step away from international rugby and just enjoy my last few years as a professional rugby player.

“I’d like to thank the Ospreys for continuing to believe in me, even when my omission from the Welsh squad sometimes had me doubting my own ability and Warren, for giving me a chance to pull the famous red jersey on once again.”

Rhys Webb – Career Retrospective

A Bridgend native, Webb began his rugby career with Bridgend Athletic, before progressing into the club’s senior team in 2006. Webb’s talent’s were instantly recognised, and the scrum half progressed rapidly into the Ospreys set up for the 2007/08 Celtic League.

During his six year’s in the Welsh Premiership (alongside his Ospreys career), Webb spent half his time at Bridgend, before he took a year year starring role with Aberavon until 2011. He soon found silverware with the Ospreys, as the Welsh club shocked Leinster with a 17-12 win in the 2009/10 Celtic League final, and they lifted their first league title in five years.

Webb remained loyal to the Ospreys for an additional eight years, were he continued to establish himself amongst the squad, and become a top contender of Wales’ number nine jersey. The 2011/12 season was Webb’s breakthrough, as Mike Phillips had left the club to join Bayonne. The Ospreys claimed the inaugural Pro12 league title, after once again leaving Leinster stunned in the final. Ospreys completed a staggering 31-30 comeback, with Webb at the helm for the triumph.

This ignited Webb’s international career, as he made his debut in the 2012 Six Nations, coming off the bench against Italy. Webb missed out on the 2015 Rugby World Cup with a late injury, which he picked up in a warm-up match. 2016 was a year of redemption for Webb, who’s stellar Osprey performances lead him to the 2016 Six Nations, and later earnt him a spot on the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Webb moved to Toulon in 2018, which unfortunately ruled him out of contention for Warren Gatland’s Wales squad. The 60-cap rule stood for overseas Welsh players, and Webb had only accrued 31. Webb returned to the Ospreys in 2020 after a stint with Bath. This saw the scrum half omitted back into the Wales senior side, during the Wayne Pivac era. Webb played his final matches for Wales during the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, making three try-assists in the tournament.