Rugby Union: Winger Evans hangs up his Test boots

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The Independent Online
IEUAN EVANS, the Wales and Lions wing, has retired from international rugby after an outstanding 11-year Test career.

"There comes a time when your body and mind cries out enough is enough," Evans, who is 34 next week, said. "There comes a time when logic, not emotion, dictate your future plans and to turn my back on this game will leave a huge void.

"International rugby has had a massive influence on my life. But to fulfil both club and country training commitments was simply too much of a burden. One had to go and it was international rugby."

Evans, who crossed the line a record 33 times in 72 appearances for Wales, has played only once for his country since March 1997 - against Italy five weeks ago - owing to a combination of injuries and Lions commitments. During his career he has suffered five shoulder dislocations, a broken leg and dislocated ankle.

"I've been putting my body under greater pressure as the years have moved on. Recovering from injury has been an increasing problem," said Evans, who last summer left Llanelli after 14 years to join Bath. "I have already stated that I wouldn't be part of the Wales summer tour to South Africa and with only two championship matches left it would be unfair to everyone concerned to attempt to carry on."

Evans will play for Bath for another 18 months and then call it a day. "I don't think coaching is for me," he said. "Once I've put my boots away, that will be it."

Kevin Bowring, the Wales coach, said: "Ieuan will be sorely missed. I always had enormous respect for him as a player and a person. He has had an incredible international career and, but for injury, would have had 102 caps. His absence will leave a big hole."

Gerald Davies, one of the Welsh rugby greats, said: "Ieuan would have shone in any generation of Welsh rugby. He had an athlete's pace and could play off his feet. As captain he did everything possible to sustain his country's proud reputation."

Evans, who made his international debut against France in 1987, captained Wales a record 28 times and led them to the 1994 Five Nations title. His 33 tries puts him fifth on rugby union's all-time list behind David Campese, Rory Underwood, Serge Blanco and John Kirwan.

Awarded an MBE in 1996, Evans was three times a Lions tourist - Australia (1989), New Zealand (1993) and South Africa (1997) - making seven Test appearances for the side.

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