Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Warburton forced to hang up his boots

Warburton forced to hang up his boots

Wales legend Sam Warburton has retired from professional rugby - leaving behind him a distinguished career at the very top.

He also steered Wales to the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-finals - he was controversially sent off in the last-four clash against France - and although Warburton leaves a considerable void in the Wales camp, Gatland can be consoled by an array of openside talent available to him offered by players like Justin Tipuric, James Davies, Josh Navidi and Ellis Jenkins.

Warburton won 79 Test caps for Wales following his debut back in 2009 but has not played since leading the British and Irish Lions in their drawn series with New Zealand last summer.

"Unfortunately after a long period of rest and rehabilitation the decision to retire from rugby has been made with my health and wellbeing as a priority", Warburton said.

"I can not thank the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff Blues enough, who have gone beyond the call of duty, in providing the support I received to help me get back on the field, for which I will be forever grateful".

Gatland highlighted Warburton's performance in the Lions' clash with New Zealand in Auckland last July, which earned a series draw against the world champions, as a standout moment in his career.

He has been involved in pre-season training with Cardiff Blues in recent weeks, but his career is now at an end. There are so many people who helped me along the way from school teachers, coaches, friends and family. I thank you so much for supporting my dreams and aspirations. "I hope he can take the time to reflect on a magnificent career", Gatland added.

Developing story. More to follow.

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Among his many achievements, he lifted the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2010, when the Blues became the first Welsh rugby team to win a European trophy, courtesy of a 28-21 victory against Toulon at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.

The shock announcement has handed Wales a huge blow before next year's World Cup and will leave the head coach, Warren Gatland, without one of his best players for the tournament in Japan.

The social media reaction to this news has been none other than monumental, (in rugby terms) with fans and celebrities alike leaving their support for the former Wales captain. I can just throw the kitchen sink at it for two years and what will be, will be'. He was back in training with Cardiff and looking forward to playing.

"As a player, person and role model in rugby he has nothing else to prove".

"We can't get away from the fact that someone like Sam is only 29 and retiring well before their time", Omar Hassanein, chief executive of International Rugby Players, told The Times.

"Sam Warburton will be remembered as a gentleman off the pitch and an unbelievable competitor on the pitch".

"We could not be prouder of Sam's achievements both at Cardiff Blues where he has made more than 100 appearances and on the global stage with Wales and the Lions, where he has continued a long and rich tradition".

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