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Cohen retires to tackle bullying and homophobia

Alex Lowe
Monday 16 May 2011 00:00 BST

Ben Cohen, England's World Cup winner, is quitting rugby. The 32-year-old wing, who scored 31 tries in 57 Tests, has been released by Sale Sharks despite being their player of the season.

Cohen believes he could play for another two years but has turned down offers from clubs in England and France. Instead he will focus on heading up the Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation, which tackles bullying and homophobia.

"I would never have imagined my career was going to move in this direction after my rugby career, but here we are – it's happening," he said. "I have reached the top in my sport. It has been an incredible journey and has put me in the privileged position I am in today to be able to work on these exciting new projects through the Stand Up Brand.

"As athletes, it is not enough just to have strong bodies, we must have strong characters and use our voices to support those who need and deserve it."

Cohen is the latest of England's 2003 veterans to hang up his boots. The only members of the starting XV from the World Cup victory over Australia still playing are Jonny Wilkinson, Steve Thompson, Lewis Moody and Mike Tindall – Josh Lewsey made a brief comeback for Wasps this season.

The Munster coach, Tony McGahan, says his team must improve if they are to beat Leinster in the Magners League final on 28 May, after edging past last year's winners Ospreys 18-11 on Saturday. "We'll certainly need to raise the stakes. They're a really settled side playing excellent rugby and have come through against some excellent opposition this season," said McGahan.

Leinster brushed aside Ulster 18-3 on Friday thanks to Fergus McFadden and Luke Fitzgerald tries, but despite the comprehensive win, Sean O'Brien was keen to play down their chances. "Even though we're in a position to win trophies, deep down right now we know that we have won nothing yet," he said.

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