James Forrester, the new-age loose forward from Gloucester who won a couple of England caps in 2005 and would have won plenty more but for chronic injury problems, yesterday announced his retirement from the game at the distressingly young age of 27. His decision comes as a profound blow to the West Country club, for whom he clinched the European Challenge Cup three seasons ago with a characteristically inventive extra-time try in the final against London Irish, and certainly puts Danny Cipriani's fat lip into proper perspective.
Generally selected as a free-roaming No 8, Forrester suffered serious elbow and shoulder injuries during his nine-year career at Kingsholm, but overcame both. What he could not overcome was a knee condition that forced him to miss the whole of last season. He attempted a comeback in a recent second-string match at Sale, but broke down again. Advised that he faced another eight months of inactivity, he felt there was little point in carrying on.
"He'll be sorely missed," said Dean Ryan, the Gloucester head coach. "He was part of a group of individuals who helped evolve the style of rugby we're playing now; other people are now reaping the benefit of what he and his colleagues started here. He was a player whose interpretation of the game was remarkable, a player who could turn matches. I hope there will come a point when we can sit back and remember him for the player he was, but at the moment, I just feel sorry for him. When someone has to call time on a Premiership career at such a premature stage, it's an incredibly difficult thing to handle."
Wasps, who have enough problems on their plate without the frenzy over Cipriani's training-ground spat with Josh Lewsey earlier this week, have confirmed that another of their bright young midfielders, the centre Dominic Waldouck, will be out for two months after suffering knee ligament damage during last weekend's EDF Energy Cup defeat at Gloucester. The hooker Joe Ward, meanwhile, has started his rehabilitation programme after surgery on a ravaged pectoral muscle. He will not be fit until the new year.
Bath, who have the small matter of a Heineken Cup match in Toulouse ahead of them this weekend, were given some timely encouragement when Butch James, the World Cup-winning outside-half from South Africa, signed a three-year extension to his contract. James, who turns 30 next summer, is keen to stay involved with the Springboks ahead of the forthcoming Lions tour, but his decision to put pen to paper at the Recreation Ground suggests he will end his career in the West Country.Reuse content