Former England captain Lewis Moody retires from rugby

 

England World Cup winner and former red rose captain Lewis Moody has retired from rugby with immediate effect.

The 33-year-old Bath flanker, who suffered a shoulder injury earlier this season, confirmed on his official website that he has called it a day.

Moody, who won 71 caps and played in two Tests on the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, stepped down from the international arena following England's World Cup campaign last autumn.

In a statement released through his agents Big Red Management, Moody said: "It is with great sadness that I have to announce my immediate retirement from all forms of rugby.

"I have been very privileged to have played in some incredible teams and with some phenomenal players.

"I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the medics and physios who have put me back together time and time again to enable me to continue to play this wonderful sport of ours."

"I would like to thank all of the coaches that I have worked with during my career, from Bracknell minis to the British and Irish Lions; they have all left their mark on me as a player.

"It goes without saying how much I value the fans who have supported me so loyally over the years, it has been one of life's singular pleasures to have played this game in front of you."

"Finally, I would not have achieved what I have in this sport without the continued support of my family and friends during my entire career.

"Rugby has been my life for such a long time now, it is scary to imagine what it will be like without it, but I look forward to relishing the new opportunities and adventures that will come my way."

Moody skippered England during last year's World Cup tournament, with his final Test match appearance being the quarter-final defeat against France in Auckland. He made his debut against Canada in 2001.

He played a part in all seven of England's games during their 2003 World Cup triumph, and also enjoyed a highly-successful club career.

Ascot-born Moody spent 14 seasons with Leicester, helping them win seven Premiership titles, while he also featured in three Heineken Cup finals and captained the Tigers.

He made his Leicester first team debut in 1996 while still a pupil at Oakham School, and is currently halfway through a three-year contract with Bath.

Despite his success, though, Moody's career was badly-affected by injuries, with knee ligament, foot, eye socket and shoulder problems among those to sideline him for varying lengths of time.

Nicknamed 'Mad Dog,' his abrasive, all-action and fearless style made him a hit with supporters of club and country.

Former England coach Martin Johnson, who played alongside Lewis for Leicester and England before coaching him, said: "When I look back at playing with Lewis it always brings a smile to my face - it was never dull.

"He was one of the most committed guys I ever played with and had a complete disregard for his own physical wellbeing.

"It's sad that he has had to retire but he should be remembered for a great career and someone who never gave less than 100 percent for his club and country."

Bath director of rugby Ian McGeechan said: "Lewis has been a fantastic servant to the game, and I am disappointed I will not now have another opportunity to work with him on the training pitch and watch him deliver in a Bath jersey.

"He has had a tremendous career and is a player I have greatly admired. He is always fully committed and is everything any coach would want in a back row forward.

"He is someone whose opinion I trust and value, and he leaves a fantastic legacy from his time with Leicester, England and the Lions, which will long be remembered."

Bath chief executive Nick Blofeld said: "Lewis has had a very positive impact throughout his time with Bath.

"Part of the reason we signed him was due to the experience and attitude he would bring off the field as well as on it, and he has played a big role in helping us to strengthen the culture, attitude and playing environment at the club.

"We are of course sad to see him retire, but wish him all the best with his future."

Damian Hopley, the chief executive of the Rugby Players Association, also paid tribute to Moody, who later confirmed he had decided to quit due to the shoulder problem.

Hopley said: "Lewis Moody has been one of the great servants of rugby in England over a magnificent 16-year career in which he lifted every major trophy in domestic, European and international Rugby.

"He has never given anything less than 100% to the cause and always led from the front in taking on his opponents.

"Whilst any forced retirement can be a very traumatic time for our players, I hope that Lewis will look back with immense pride on his outstanding career and that he will use his key attributes including discipline, determination and leadership in making the transition away from playing into his next chosen career.

"As a former England captain Lewis has done so much for the sport and we all wish him and his family every success for the next stage of their lives."

PA

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