Rugby round-up: England hooker Thompson retires – for good

 

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The England hooker Steve Thompson has retired, for the second time, with a neck injury. Thompson suffered the injury while training with Wasps at the end of October – it is a different problem to the one which seemed to have ended his career in 2007, before he made a comeback.

"I went to the specialist and he advised me it isn't safe to carry on playing," Thompson said.

Thompson played an hour in a Wasps win over Worcester, which turned out to be his first and last appearance for the club whom he joined from Leeds last summer; he also played for Northampton and Brive. He won 73 caps and was part of the 2003 World Cup winning team and he played three Tests for the Lions in New Zealand in 2005.

The 33-year-old said: "I was gutted. I hit a scrum machine and it just went. I tried to convince myself it was fine and it wasn't. I went to the specialist and he advised me it isn't safe to carry on playing. I need another operation, which will happen on Tuesday. I have had a lot of numbness and dizziness.

"I was enjoying rugby. I thought I had done all right at the World Cup, compared to how some of the lads went, and I was really looking forward to Wasps. The World Cup was hard. To finish the way it did was really disappointing and then to suffer another blow a few weeks afterwards – it's like a kick in the nuts. This operation will be more painful than the last one. I will take a break and see what opportunities come along."

In the Aviva Premiership, Sale beat Bath 16-13 at the Rec. Mark Cueto scored Sale's try and Nick Macleod kicked 11 points; Michael Claassens scored Bath's try and Olly Barkley kicked eight points. Bath are eight points above the bottom club, Newcastle.

Sale's director of sport, Steve Diamond, rather summed up the nature of most Premiership rugby when he said: "It wasn't a fantastic game skill-wise but the endeavour, the hits that were put in, were second to none. It's a tough league."

At Sandy Park, as if to reinforce Diamond's point, Exeter beat Worcester 15-9. Ignacio Mieres kicked all the Chiefs' points; Joe Carlisle and Andy Goode kicked them all for the Warriors.

In the RaboDirect Pro12 the Ospreys beat Munster 19-13, despite having players on Wales duty. Richard Fussell and Rhys Webb scored the region's tries and Matthew Morgan kicked three penalties. Doug Howlett scored a try for Munster; Ian Keatley kicked five points and Ronan O'Gara three.

England won the Dubai Sevens for a second year running, beating France 29-12 in the final. England are second in the World Series standings, behind Fiji.

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